Memory Match: Preston North End's early three-goal blitz at Millwall in February 2019

It was effectively job done for Preston North End inside half an hour of their February 2019 visit to Millwall.
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They raced into a 3-0 lead with just 27 minutes showing on the clock at the Den.

Andrew Hughes, Tom Clarke and Sean Maguire found the net.

Millwall’s solitary reply was a second-half consolation from Ben Thompson.

Andrew Hughes fires Preston North End into the lead at Millwall in February 2019Andrew Hughes fires Preston North End into the lead at Millwall in February 2019
Andrew Hughes fires Preston North End into the lead at Millwall in February 2019
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Victory was North End’s fourth in a row on the road, the first time they had put together such a sequence since the 1950/51 season.

They’d already won at Queens Park Rangers, Stoke and Bolton and would go on to win six on the bounce on their travels – Blackburn and Middlesbrough were beaten after this visit to the capital.

Victory delighted 1,106 PNE fans who had ventured to South Bermondsey, with them giving the players a tremendous reception at the final whistle.

In the nutshell, PNE blitzed their hosts from the word go in the first half, taking the lead with a little more than three minutes on the clock and building from there.

The masked Tom Clarke scores PNE's second goal at MillwallThe masked Tom Clarke scores PNE's second goal at Millwall
The masked Tom Clarke scores PNE's second goal at Millwall
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With just 90 seconds gone, they’d had a sight of goal as Maguire got down the left and escaped the attention of two defenders before lifting the ball into the middle.

His cross found Tom Barkhuizen, the winger’s shot on its way into the net until left-back Murray Wallace got in the way to take it out for a corner.

The Lilywhites didn’t have long to wait to take the lead though as Paul Gallagher delivered a free-kick from the right channel into the box.

Jordan Storey won it initially in the air, the ball falling to Hughes whose first attempt at a shot didn’t go to plan. But the Welshman got a second bite, spinning round to hook a volley into the net from 12 yards.

Sean Maguire is congratulated after scoring the third goal in PNE's win at Millwall in 2019Sean Maguire is congratulated after scoring the third goal in PNE's win at Millwall in 2019
Sean Maguire is congratulated after scoring the third goal in PNE's win at Millwall in 2019
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Alan Browne and Maguire both had chances before the lead was doubled in the 16th minute.

Another Gallagher delivery set it up, the midfielder sending a corner across the box to the far post where Clarke powered a header into the net.

Clarke, wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, had been drafted into the side at right-back to replace the injured Darnell Fisher.

The mask was whipped off as part of Clarke’s celebration of the goal.

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It got even better in the 27th minute as the third goal hit the net, Preston clinical in their execution of it.

Clarke went in for a challenge which he won, the ball bouncing the way of Gallagher whose cushioned first-time pass pierced the Millwall defence and played in Maguire.

The Irish striker was on it like a flash, getting there just ahead of the keeper to lift it over him and into the net.

In the second half North End had to withstand plenty of pressure from Millwall which was not surprising.

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Lions manager Neil Harris had dished out a hair dryer of a half-time team talk.

Harris also made two subs in a bid to turn things rounds.

So PNE had to dig in and show a different side of tier game than they had displayed in the first half.

PNE could have had a fourth goal on the counter attack in the 64th minute, Brad Potts seeing a low right-foot drive tipped behind by keeper Jordan Archer.

Millwall reduced the arrears in the 67th minute, Ben Marshall’s cross from the left finding Steve Morison at the back post.

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Morison rose to head it back into the middle for fellow sub Ben Thompson to drive a shot into the net from 10 yards.

Lukas Nmecha, on as a substitute for Gallagher, set off on a weaving run which ended with a low deflected shot being comfortably saved by Archer.

In the 85th minute, Jed Wallace’s low shot from 25 yards caught a deflection and forced Declan Rudd to dive and parry.

The rebound hit the in-rushing Lee Gregory on the shin and rolled wide.