Oldham 1 PNE 3 full-time

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson
Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson
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Preston North End maintained their promotion push with victory over Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park.

It was their 11th win on the road this season, two goals from Joe Garner and Keith Keane’s deflection delivering the three points.

An entertaining game, watched by 2,922 travelling PNE supporters, saw Garner miss a penalty at 2-1 after Latics substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris was sent-off for handball on the line.

Keane had touched home a shot from the impressive Chris Humphrey to give North End an early lead.

Humphrey was the provider for their second goal in the 71st minute, his cross turned over the line by Garner from close range.

Gary Harkins reduced the arrears within four minutes, before Garner saw the penalty saved by Oldham keeper Mark Oxley.

But he atoned for the miss by wrapping up victory three minutes from time, his shot from the edge of the box going in after hitting both posts.

Simon Grayson had made one change to the Lilywhites side which had beaten Walsall a week earlier.

That came at the back, Jack King replacing Bailey Wright who had been injured in training on Thursday.

North End, lining-up in a 3-5-2 system, made the best possible start by taking a fifth minute lead with the first attack of the contest.

King’s cross field pass out of defence picked out Humphrey in plenty of space on the right-wing.

Humphrey beat his marker, cut inside and struck a left-foot shot which caught Keane on the knee, the deflection taking the ball into the bottom corner.

As Oldham looked for a quick equaliser, Korey Smith side-footed a shot wide of the target after Neil Kilkenny had blocked a cross from David Worrall.

In the 19th minute, Craig Davies won the ball back just outside the box after losing possession.

He laid a pass back into the path of the supporting Paul Gallagher whose low drive from 20 yards flashed just past the target.

A shot from Joe Garner struck a defender and rolled through to Oxley, Gallagher’s pass having picked him out.

Gallagher tried his luck with a shot from 40 yards in an attempt to catch Oxley off his line, but the keeper back pedalled and saved above his head.

Seven minutes before the interval, Gallagher robbed possession off Connor Brown on the left side of the box.

He squared the ball inside to Kilkenny who in turn fed Keane, the skipper’s shot hitting Jonathan Grounds on the head and going behind for a corner.

The resulting corner was cleared by the Oldham defence, but Gallagher returned the ball back into the mix, Tom Clarke’s flicked header going straight into Oxley’s gloves.

In stoppage-time at the end of the first half, a 25-yard daisy-cutter from Harkins was saved comfortably by Declan Rudd.

After the re-start, Danny Philliskirk got room on the right side of the box, his angled shot going straight at Rudd to clutched the ball to his chest.

Garner let fly with a shot from 30 yards which bounced through to the keeper without particularly troubling him.

Oldham had a good spell of pressure as the second period progressed, Rudd getting himself behind a downward header from Adam Lockwood to save.

At the other end, Oxley saved at the feet of Davies as he stretched to meet a Kilkenny through ball.

Harkins’ teasing 63rd minute cross caught out the Preston defence but it was a bit too high for Clarke-Harris who could only head wide of the back stick rather than guide it back across goal.

Rudd then saved magnificently from Smith’s swerving shot which moved all over the place, the keeper getting a strong hand to it and pushing it away.

Slightly against the run of the second-half play, North End broke forward to score their second goal in the 71st minute.

Humphrey picked up possession on the right-wing, skinned left-back David Mellor and cut inside.

He drilled a low ball into the six-yard box, Garner applying the final touch from close range.

But the two-goal cushion lasted only four minutes, Harkins volleying home on the turn from 12 yards after Clarke-Harris’ header fell into his path.

PNE could have swiftly restored the more comfortable margin, referee Steve Martin pointing to the spot after Garner’s header from a Humphrey centre was handled on the line by Clarke-Harris.

The substitute was sent-off, but Garner’s penalty – well enough struck – was well saved by Oxley diving to his right.

It looked like North End would have to hang on, but they netted their third goal in the 87th minute to make the game safe.

Scott Wiseman was the creator, driving forward from his own half before feeding a pass through for Garner just outside the box.

Garner’s low right-foot shot beat Oxley, hit the inside of one post, rolled across the line, hit the other post and went in.

That was his 20th goal of the campaign, the striker celebrating in front of the travelling supporters as the points were made safe.

He gave way to Kevin Davies soon and North End kept the ball well in the closing stages to see the game out well.

Oldham: Oxley, Brown, Lockwood, Grounds, Mellor, Worrall (Kissock 78), Smith, Wesolowski, Harkins, Philliskirk (Clarke-Harris 58), MacDonald (Turner 80). Subs not used: Dunfield, Winchester, Wilson, Rachubka.

PNE: Rudd, Wiseman, King, Clarke, Humphrey, Keane, Kilkenny (Brownhill 81), Laird, Gallagher, C Davies (Beavon 81), Garner (K Davies 88). Subs not used: Buchanan, Hume, Holmes, Stuckmann.

Referee: Steve Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 6,698 (2,922 PNE)