Millwall 1 Preston North End 3 - Fourth away victory on the bounce for the Lilywhites

Sean Maguire is congratulated after scoring Preston's third goal at Milwall
Sean Maguire is congratulated after scoring Preston's third goal at Milwall

Preston North End scored three goals in the first 27 minutes to beat Millwall at The Den.

This was PNE's fourth away victory on the bounce, the first time they have done that in this division since the 1950/51 season.

PNE midfielder Brad Potts competes for the ball against Millwall at The Den

PNE midfielder Brad Potts competes for the ball against Millwall at The Den

Andrew Hughes, Tom Clarke and Sean Maguire were on target to spark joyous scenes among the 1,016 North End supporters who made the trip to South London.

Left-back Hughes was on target inside four minutes, skipper Clarke doubling the lead in the 16th minute.

Maguire then ran on to a Paul Gallagher through ball to extend the lead, one which was tested by the home side in the second half.

Alex Neil's men had to show a different side to their game after the break, digging in to resist strong Millwall pressure.

The defence was breached just the once, substitute Ben Thompson scoring with his first touch in the 67th minute.

But the visitors held firm after that against FA Cup quarter finalists Millwall, the one disappointing on the afternoon being a late yellow card for Ben Pearson which triggers a two-match suspension.

The North End starting XI had shown one change to the side which had drawn against Nottingham Forest a week earlier, Clarke replacing the injured Darnell Fisher at right-back.

On the bench there was a first inclusion in a matchday squad for January signing Joe Rafferty,

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.

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 who's first attempt at a shot didn't go to plan.

But he got a second bite, spinning round to hook a volley into the net from 12 yards.

Alan Browne and Maguire both had chances before the lead was doubled in the 16th minute.

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

The skipper celebrated by pulling off the protective mask he wears to protect his badly broken nose.

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 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.

Millwall made two substitutions at half-time and as expected came out for the second half fired-up by a Neil Harris' rollicking.

It saw North End having to ride plenty of pressure, the home side going close through sub Shane Ferguson in the 58th minute.

Ferguson drilled a low shot from the left hand side of box across the face of the goal and just wide of the far post.

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

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

Morison rose to head it back into the middle for fellow sub 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 inrushing Lee Gregory on the shin and rolled wide of the target.

There was a costly booking for Pearson soon after, the midfielder cautioned for hacking the ball into the stand after a free-kick had been awarded against Preston.

It was Pearson's 10th yellow card of the campaign, triggering a two-match suspension which rules him out of the games against Bristol City and Blackburn.

Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Wallace (Ferguson 46), Williams, Leonard (Thompson 66), Marshall, Elliott (Morison 46), Gregory. Subs (not used): Onyedinma, Pearce, O'Brien, Martin.

PNE: Rudd, Clarke, Storey, Davies, Hughes, Pearson, Barkhuizen (Johnson 76), Browne, Potts (Ledson 90), Gallagher (Nmecha 72) Maguire. Subs (not used: Crowe, Earl, Rafferty, Stockley.

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 13,265 (1,016 PNE)