Preston North End 4 Colchester United 2 full-time

PNE v Colchester
PNE v Colchester
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Preston North End scored four and hit the woodwork three times as they saw off Colchester United in an entertaining clash at Deepdale.

It was a third League One victory on the bounce for the Lilywhites and moved them up one place to fifth in the table.

Scott Wiseman, Alan Browne, Paul Gallagher and Chris Humphrey all found the net.

Joe Garner twice rattled the post and bar, while substitute Callum Robinson also hit the timber.

PNE had to initially come from behind, Rhys Healey having given the U’s the lead in the 17th minute.

Wiseman equalised with his first ever North End goal, the right-back scoring with a fine individual effort,

Then Browne gave the home side the lead after good closing-down work by Humphrey craeted the chance.

A superb finish from Alex Gilbey brought Colchester level seven minutes before the interval.

But Preston regained the lead less than two minutes into the second period with a shot from 25 yards.

Then Humphrey effectively sealed the three points in the 57th minute after being played through by Gallagher’s defence-splitting pass.

Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson had named an unchanged starting XI.

He went same again in light of last Saturday’s strong performance in the 2-0 victory over Coventry.

North End should have gone ahead inside the second minutes when a fine pass from Garner put Gallagher clear in the box but he dragged a low shot just wide of the target.

A mistake by Bailey Wright let in Freddie Sears down the inside-right channel, his driven centre across the six-yard box cleared behind by Wiseman.

The visitors took a 17th minute lead, Gilbey given far too much time on the edge of the box to drill a low shot goalwards.

It caught a deflection on the way which forced a wrong-footed Jamie Jones to block with his legs, the rebound falling to Healey who swept it into the net.

PNE’s response was swift with them pulling level in the 21st minute through the unlikely figure of right-back Wiseman.

The Gibraltar international collected possession 45 yards out down the right channel and surged forwards, cutting in field towards the box.

Wiseman swerved past a couple of challenges as he arrived in the box before finishing with a powerful right-foot drive into the far bottom corner.

Just four minutes later, North End went ahead.

Humphrey challenged a Colchester defender just outside the box, the ball breaking forward which both Humphrey and Browne chased,

It was midfielder Browne who reached it marginally ahead of Humphrey to beat keeper Sam Walker with a shot from 12 yards.

Jones saved well with his knees to block a free far-post header from Sanchez Watt, the winger having been found by a searching cross from Sean Clohessy.

Gallagher sent a shot from 25 yards dipping inches over the top as Preston looked to stretch their advantage.

But Colchester equalised in some style in the 38th minute, Gilbey pulling the trigger from outside the box with a fine right-foot shot which flew into the far corner of the net.

Both sides went close as the interval approached, Garner inches off target with a first-time shot from 18 yards.

At the other end in first-half stoppage-time, a fierce Sears shot dipped just over Jones’ bar.

North End regained the lead less than two minutes into the second period.

Gallagher came inside from the left-wing and hit a right-foot shot from 25 yards which kept quite low and swerved beyond Walker.

The hosts were the width of the woodwork away from a fourth goal in the 52nd minute, Garner’s shot from distance left by the keeper but it clipped the outside of the post.

A fourth goal did come five minutes later though, a superb pass from Gallagher splitting the Colchester defence to send Humphrey clear in the box.

Humphrey took a touch before clipping the ball goalwards, and while Walker got a touch to take the sting off the shot, Humphrey had the simple task of knocking the ball into the empty net.

Immediately after the goal, Kyel Reid replaced Josh Brownhill, the substitute going on to the left-wing with Gallagher moving inside in an attacking midfield role behind Garner.

Reid was quickly involved in the action, getting to the byline on the left hand side of the box and pulling back a cross which Garner met with a looping header, the ball hitting the bar.

On the hour, Jones got down to his right to save a low shot from Gavin Massey, then a few minutes later it needed a fine sliding block from Wright to take Watt’s cross over the bar to safety.

Robinson, on as a 68th minute substitute for Humphrey, twice went close to finding the net in the space of sixty seconds.

He cut inside from the left channel and let fly with a low shot which clipped off a defender and behind into the side-netting.

Then a fine cross field ball from Gallagher found him 20 yards out, Robinson’s rising shot smacking against the bar.

In the 85th minute, Jones pulled off a good save to dip a shot from Sears over the bar.

There was a Preston debut for Jack Ryan in the 90th minute, the teenager replacing Garner for stoppage-time.

PNE: Jones, Wiseman, Clarke, Wright, Buchanan, Kilkenny, Browne, Brownhill (Reid 58) Humphrey (Robinson 68), Gallagher, Garner (Ryan 90). Subs not used: Huntington, King, Hayhurst, Stuckmann,

Colchester: Walker, Clohessy, Kent, Eastman, Gordon, Massey, Moncur, Gilbey, Watt, Sears, Healy (Drey Wright 65). Subs not used: Lewington, David Wright, Eastmond, Lawrence, Bonne, Lapslie.

Referee: Steve Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 8,478 (133 away)