Peterborough 0 PNE 1 full-time

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Jermaine Beckford’s first goal for Preston North End earned the Lilywhites victory over Peterborough United at London Road.

The striker, on loan from Bolton Wanderers, struck the game’s only goal in first-half stoppage-time.

Peterborough v PNE

Peterborough v PNE

He latched on to a flick from Kevin Davies to lift the ball over Posh goalkeeper Ben Alnwick.

It stretched North End’s unbeaten run to seven matches and kept them right up there in the promotion mix.

In the second half, they had to soak up plenty of pressure from the hosts and see out six minutes of added-on time but rarely was Thorsten Stuckmann troubled.

This was Simon Grayson’s 100th game in charge of PNE and his 50th victory, an impressive ratio to say the least.

Grayson had made five changes to the Lilywhites side, Neil Kilkenny, John Welsh, Chris Humphrey, Paul Gallagher and Davies returning to the starting XI after being rested for the midweek win over Notts County in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

They lined-up in a 3-5-2 system, with Scott Wiseman, Tom Clarke and Paul Huntington in the back three.

Posh had the first chance of the contest in the second minute, Erhum Oztumer’s curling free-kick shovelled past the post by Stuckmann and out for a corner.

There followed a really strong spell from the visitors, Scott Laird’s driving run down the left channel ending with him shooting straight at Alnwick from 20 yards.

North End hit the woodwork in their next attack, Davies’ pass finding Gallagher just inside the box, Gallagher’s first-time shot hitting the underside of the bar and bouncing down just the wrong side of the line.

Gallagher lifted a 19th minute shot over the top from the corner of the box, the ball having fallen to him after a Laird cross had only been partly dealt with the home defence.

A strong run by Laird took him down the left-wing, his low centre just evading Beckford in the middle with Humphrey unable to keep the ball in play at the back post.

Peterborough came close to opening the scoring as the half-hour mark approached, Oztumer’s fizzing shot from 25 yards flying inches wide.

Home left-back Kgosi Ntlhe then hit an effort from distance straight into Stuckmann’s gloves.

Laird’s shot from the left hand side of the box forced Alnwick into a save at the near post, then Paul Huntington got on the end of a Gallagher corner but put his header too high.

Beckford was booked in the 44th minute for a shove on Ntlhe as they chased for a ball in the box, Ntlhe falling against the perimeter wall behind the goal.

But the striker quickly put that behind him as he gave North End the lead 30 seconds into stoppage-time at the end of the first half.

Kilkenny’s pass found Davies on the edge of the box and he flicked it on with the outside of his boot.

It freed Beckford behind the Posh defence and he held off the attentions of Gabriel Zakuani to lift the ball over the advancing Alnwick and into the corner of the net.

Six minutes into the second half, Huntington’s header back towards Stuckmann fell short of its target allowing Mclean to nip in.

Stuckmann was quickly out to rescue the situation, making himself big to block Mclean’s attempted lob.

Gallagher limped out of the action in the 61st minute to be replaced by Alan Browne.

The Irish midfielder was booked within three minutes of his arrival on the pitch for handling a Michael Bostwick cross a couple of yards outside the box.

With 68 minutes on the clock, Laird’s pull-back found Beckford whose low shot clipped off a defender and went behind for a corner.

Soon after that chance, Browne was fouled down the left channel by Jermaine Anderson, that earning PNE a free-kick and Anderson a yellow card.

Kilkenny’s free-kick into the box was hacked clear by Christian Burgess from inside the six-yard box.

The ball fell to Laird 25 yards out who tried his luck with a swerving shot which Alnwick dived to save.

There was a close call for Preston in the 74th minute when Peterborough broke on the counter attack.

Craig Mackail-Smith got room down the left-wing and put over a cross on the run which Mclean fired wide of the near post with a first-time shot.

In the final stages, Posh were camped in the Preston half but the visitors held firm.

The home side’s last corner in the 96th minute saw Alnwick come up into the PNE box.

When the flag kick was cleared, the ball was worked up to substitute Andy Little on the half-way line who tried his luck at goal with the keeper stranded.

But Oztumer got back to clear as the ball travelled towards goal - it did not matter as seconds later the final whistle went.

Peterborough: Alnwick, Bostwick, Burgess, Zakuani (James 86), Ntlhe, Beautyman, Payne, Oztumer, Anderson (Mendez-Laing 71), Mackail-Smith, Mclean. Subs not used: Smith, Vassell, Washington, Santos, Day.

Booked: Mclean 49, Anderson 69

PNE: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Clarke, Huntington, Laird, Humphrey (Little 86), Kilkenny, Welsh, Gallagher (Browne 61), Beckford (King 86), Davies. Subs not used: Woods, Reid, Brownhill, Jones.

Booked: Beckford 44, Browne 64, Little 90

Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey)

Attendance: 6,803 (475 PNE)