Match report: PNE 2 Scunthorpe United 0

PNE boss Simon Grayson
PNE boss Simon Grayson
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Second-half goals from Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher gave Preston North End victory over Scunthorpe United at Deepdale.

After a sluggish opening 20 minutes which was perhaps a hangover from the Manchester United FA Cup tie, the Lilywhites got themselves going and delivered a third league win on the bounce.

The lively Callum Robinson had a hand in both goals, Robinson making his first start since his return on a youth loan from Aston Villa.

It was his cross which played in Johnson for the 58th minute opener, that the January signing’s first goal in Preston colours.

Then Robinson saw a shot parried by Scunthorpe keeper Luke Daniels, the ball returned into the mix by Chris Humphrey for Paul Gallagher to net the second.

Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson had made three changes to the North End side from the United game.

Johnson and Sam Johnstone returned to the starting XI after being cup-tied on Monday, with Robinson coming in for Kevin Davies up front in a 3-5-2 system.

North End were slow out of the blocks, Scunthorpe looking the brighter of the sides for the first part of the first period.

A long-range shot from Iron right-back Jordan Clarke bounced through into the gloves of Johnstone during the opening exchanges.

An error from Johnstone almost gifted the lead to the visitors in the 10th minute, the keeper’s scuffed clearance falling to Liam O’Neill 35 yards out.

O’Neill tired his luck with a first-time shot which sailed over Johnstone but also cleared the bar.

A better side of Johnstone was seen when he dived to save Kevin Van Veen’s close-range header, the Dutch striker having met O’Neill’s free-kick.

Tom Hopper’s shot with the outside of his boot went inches over the bar after the North End defence had parted to allow him the opening.

That let-off appeared to be the spark for Preston to get themselves going and they went on to create some half-decent chances.

Robinson collected a pass from Scott Laird, checked inside before bending a low shot wide of the far post.

Humphrey drove inside from the right-wing and struck a left-foot shot which travelled just over the bar.

At the other end, Johnstone dived to parry a shot from Van Veen, with Paddy Madden’s rebound effort taken behind into the side-netting by Laird’s block.

Joe Garner fired a shot into Luke Daniels’ gloves from the edge of the box, then a first-time effort on the half-volley from PNE’s top scorer was saved by Daniels falling to his left.

A strong run from the half-way line by Bailey Wright carried him towards the Scunthorpe box, his pass finding Garner who in turn flicked the ball through to Gallagher.

But Gallagher got crowded out as he shaped to shoot and the danger was cleared.

Six minutes before the interval, a fine pull-back from the industrious Robinson found Garner in front of goal but the striker kicked fresh air and the ball was scrambled out for a corner.

At half-time, North End changed to a 4-4-2 formation, with Tom Clarke moving out of the middle to right-back and Laird dropping into the left-back role.

It needed two good pieces of defending from Laird and Gallagher to prevent Scunthorpe taking the lead early in the second half.

Laird got back into the six-yard box to cut out a cross which was heading Madden’s way.

The resulting corner fell to Madden, his low angled shot beating Johnstone but Gallagher was stationed on the line to kick clear.

North End broke the stalemate as the hour mark approached, Gallagher’s pass releasing Robinson into a pocket of space down the left hand side of the box.

His low cross found the feet of Johnson who swept the ball under Daniels’ dive and into the net from six yards.

In their next attack PNE almost scored again, Robinson’s threaded pass playing in Gallagher who fired straight at the keeper rather than trying to go across him.

With 62 minutes gone, an inswinging corner from Laird was headed goalwards by Clarke, the skipper’s effort cleared off the line by Marcus Williams.

Preston’s second goal arrived in the 71st minute, Robinson’s shot parried out by Daniels diving to his left.

The ball ran to the right side of the box, Humphrey driving it back low into the six-yard box where Gallagher stretched to knock it over the line at the back post.

Kilkenny replaced Welsh in the 77th minute to provide fresh legs in midfield, with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Davies joining the action four minutes from time in place of Gallagher and Garner.

With 88 minutes played, a rasping left-foot drive from Humphrey stung the gloves of Daniels.

PNE: Johnstone, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Humphrey, Welsh (Kilkenny 77), Johnson, Gallagher (Ebanks-Blake 86), Laird, Robinson, Garner (Davies 86). Subs not used: Wiseman, Buchanan, Reid, Stuckmann.

Booked: Garner 80

Scunthorpe: Daniels, Clarke, Canavan, Boyce, Williams, Evans (Osbourne 62), O’Neil, Bishop (Wooton 83), Van Veen (McSheffrey 46), Hopper, Madden. Subs not used: Nolan, Adelakun, Llera, Anyon.

Booked: McSheffrey 65, Clarke 73

Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridge)

Attendance: 9,415 (464 away)