The scintillating Daniel Johnson put Peterborough United to the sword as Preston North End cruised to a 2-0 victory at Deepdale.
Man-of-the-match Johnson controlled the game from the middle of the park with his mesmerizing runs from deep, nimble touch and precision passing.
The first-half was scrappy but we managed to dig in. Second-half we were really compact, played as a team and got the win we deserved”PNE boss Simon Grayson
And it was PNE boss Simon Grayson’s £50,000 January bargain buy Johnson that opened the scoring in the 37th minute.
The former Aston Villa central midfielder latched on to Joe Garner’s pass on the edge of the box and coolly curled the ball into the bottom left corner.
Jermaine Beckford sealed the points in the 81st minute after record breaker Paul Gallagher sprinted along the back line and teed the striker up for an easy close range finish.
After three loan spells at North End Gallagher broke a national record to became the first ever player to make 100 appearances on loan for one English club tonight.
The Lilywhites ended Peterborough caretaker boss Dave Robertson’s winning streak. Robertson took over from former PNE boss Darren Ferguson in February and had won every one of his games before tonight’s clash.
The result ensures North End maintain their grip on second spot in the League One table.
But PNE started slowly and failed to emulate the high-tempo start they made when they stuffed Crewe 5-1 on Saturday.
Forward Callum Robinson’s effort was deflected wide and Peterborough’s Joe Newell fired inches off target in the opening 10 minutes.
Beckford headed straight at Peterborough keeper Alnwick in the 24th minute and Gallagher’s goalbound shot was blocked by a defender as PNE grew into the half.
Garner picked the ball up on the right before spotting Johnson’s run and teeing the central midfielder up to open the scoring in the 37th minute. Johnson stormed on to Garner’s pass before curling the ball into the bottom left corner with ease.
Huntington booked for bringing down Jon Taylor on the edge of the box in the 44th minute.
PNE upped the ante at the start of the second half as Garner’s long range effort flew inches wide and Robinson’s strike just flew off target.
Johnson fired over from 20-yards out in the 60th minute and Gallagher’s curling effort flew a whisker wide of Alnwick’s left hand post three minutes later.
Robinson’s dipping long range effort stung Alnwick’s palms as the Peterborough keeper just tipped it over his bar to safety in the 75th minute.
But up the other end PNE shot-stopper Sam Johnstone was called into action as he palmed away Taylor’s shot. The shot was Peterborough’s only effort on target.
Gallagher sprinted down the back line and put the ball on a plate for Beckford who tapped home from close range in the 81st minute.
PNE: Johnstone, Laird, Clarke, Wright, Beckford (Humphrey, 85) Gallagher, Garner (Davies, 79), Welsh, Huntington, Johnson, Robinson (Woods, 90). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Kilkenny, Reid, Ebanks-Blake.
Peterborough: Alnwick, Smith, Nlthe, Bostwick (Norris, 72) Taylor, Payne, James, Washington (Vassell, 54) Newell, Santos, Zakuani. Subs not used: Henry, Brisley, Burgess, Anderson, Beautyman.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)
Attendance: 8856 (Peterborough 204)