PNE hitting top gear says Lee

Lee Holmes shoots for goal despite the attentions of Gillingham's Elliott Hewitt and goalkeeper Stuart Nelson
Lee Holmes shoots for goal despite the attentions of Gillingham's Elliott Hewitt and goalkeeper Stuart Nelson
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Lee Holmes thinks Preston North End are hitting form at the right time as victory over Gillingham in the last home game of the season made it five wins from seven.

John Welsh, Paul Gallagher and Neil Kilkenny were on target as the Lilywhites notched up a 3-1 win in front of an 11,591 crowd, their biggest for more than two months.

The win moved them up to third place, and victory at Crewe this weekend – or matching the results of Leyton Orient and Rotherham – will keep them there.

Finishing third would see them play Peterborough in the play-off semi-finals, with the home leg second.

Holmes, who has forced his way back into the side on the right side of midfield in recent weeks, is pleased with how North End have clicked into gear.

He told the Evening Post: “We have come into a bit of form here at Deepdale at the right time, we’re scoring goals and putting in some decent performances.

“It is nice that the supporters are seeing some good displays and plenty of goals.

“Earlier on in the season we were creating chances but not perhaps finishing them off.

“When we are hot like this, a lot of teams can’t live with us.

“Our approach hasn’t changed during this run, the gaffer has been saying the same things.

“We have just started to put teams to the sword and we are going well.”

North End skipper Welsh set the ball rolling by opening the scoring in the eighth minute.

The Gills levelled in the run-up to the interval through Cody McDonald, the striker seizing on some sloppy defending.

Gallagher restored the lead in the 57th minute with a fine finish from the edge of the box.

Then substitute Kilkenny knocked in the third from close range with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

Holmes himself went close to getting on the scoresheet, only to see Gills keeper Stuart Nelson make a good save from his shot in the first half.

“We played some good stuff and knocked the ball around well,” said Holmes.

“It was a good strike by Welshy for the first goal and a good team effort in the build-up.

“We got the ball down on the edge of our own box and passed it through well.

“Stuart Beavon laid it off very nicely to Welshy and his finish was great.

“It was a sloppy goal that we gave away just before half-time, but we came out strongly in the second half and stood up to them.

“Paul Gallagher finished very well for our second and again it was a good move in the build-up.

“When we pass the ball quick and early, teams struggle to cope with us.

“Neil Kilkenny scored with his first touch for the third, putting it in from two yards. He was in the right place at the right time.”

Results elsewhere meant that Gillingham assured their place in League One for next season.

Gills boss Peter Taylor said:“I am delighted that we have stayed up. I don’t like losing anything and I don’t like losing a football match, that is a certainty.

“But I take into account the very strong opposition who are playing very confidently.

“Preston were very good on the ball, a good team and Simon Grayson has built a good side.

“We had a 15 minute spell and when our players played confidently they look different players.”