Peterborough 0 Preston NE 1

Neil Mellor's first goal since October gave Preston North End a much-needed victory over Peterborough at London Road on Tuesday night.

Mellor, playing in an unfamiliar role on the right-wing, thumped home from the edge of the box after 34 minutes for the contest's only goal.

There weren't the expected fireworks to greet Darren Ferguson's return to Posh following the pre-match rant by Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony aimed at his former manager.

The PNE boss got a muted round of applause from the home faithful as he took his place in the technical area.

Inside the opening minute, Mellor put over a dangerous cross from the right which found its way to Michael Hart in the middle.

The defender scuffed his shot, though, the ball bouncing into the ground and hitting a defender before being cleared.

Twice in a minute, Chris Whelpdale fired high over Andrew Lonergan's bar from outside the box and finding himself unattended.

Then a left-wing cross from George Boyd picked out Aaron McLean in the middle, his header going too close to Lonergan who dived to save comfortably.

In the process of trying to stop McLean reaching the ball, Callum Davidson took a bang on the head and had to leave the pitch for treatment.

The skipper reappeared five minutes later with a bandage wrapped around his head protecting a set of stitches.

North End had a let-off after a quarter-of-an-hour, Boyd's shot from the edge of the box just clearing the bar.

Chris Brown joined Davidson in the wars, he too having to be bandaged up after getting a bang on the head.

In the 32nd minute, Josh Simpson's 25-yard drive was pushed behind by the diving Lonergan, the shot appearing to be going wide until the keeper helped it on its way.

Mellor saw a low shot from Michael Hart's cut-back blocked by a Peterborough boot, but moments later he gave PNE the lead.

He collected a Ross Wallace pass just inside the box before unleashing a bullet of a left-foot shot past keeper Joe Lewis to the delight of the travelling 449 North Enders.

Posh responded with Simpson shooting just over the bar on the stroke of half-time.

North End went close to doubling their lead 10 minutes into the second half, Davidson and Wallace linking up well down the left. Davidson whipped over a great cross to find Richard Chaplow six yards out, his header superbly tipped over by Lewis.

Mellor then twice came close to adding to his first-half strike, Chaplow threading a pass through to him on the right side of the box.

He struck his shot first time and low, Lewis getting down well to block.

The ball rebounded back into his path, this time Mellor seeing his effort beat Lewis but kicked off the line by Ryan Bennett.

Davidson was helped off the pitch in the 73rd minute after a nasty clash with McLean, replaced by Darren Carter with Billy Jones switching to left-back.

Danny Welbeck had a quiet debut after signing on loan from Manchester United on Monday for the rest of the season.

Welbeck's inclusion was one of two changes made to the side by Ferguson on his Posh return, Mellor restored to the line-up.

Carter dropped to the bench as Ferguson reverted to a 4-4-2 system after matching Chelsea's 4-3-3 on Saturday.

There was no Chris Sedgwick in the squad, the winger in talks with Barnsley about a move to Oakwell.

Veliche Shumulikoski and Stephen Elliott didn't travel either, both players deemed surplus to requirements at Deepdale and expected to depart before the close of the transfer window next Monday.

PNE transfer target Paul Coutts was named among the Peterborough substitutes, while McLean, rumoured earlier in the month to be interesting Ferguson, started in attack.

PNE: Lonergan, Hart, Mawene, St Ledger, Davidson, Mellor, Jones, Chaplow, Wallace, Brown, Welbeck. Subs: Collins, Carter, Chilvers, Parkin, Barton, Mayor, Henderson.

Peterborough: Lewis, Gilbert, Lee, Bennett, Griffiths, Whelpdale, Simpson, Livermore, Boyd, Reid, McLean. Subs: Williams, Coutts, Frekclington, McLeod, McKeown, Rowe, Wright.

Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey).

Attendance: 7,134.

Read full coverage of the match in Wednesday's Lancashire Evening Post

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