Preston North End 2 Barnsley 0 match report: PNE end their Deepdale campaign on a high
Goals from Jordan Storey and Ched Evans saw Preston North End beat play-off candidates Barnsley in their final home game of the season.
It was a fourth victory for Frankie McAvoy in seven games in interim charge, North End now having taken 14 points under his stewardship.
Storey gave PNE a 39th minute lead, scoring from close range after a Ryan Ledson corner hadn't been cleared.
It was the centre-back's first goal since January 2019 and he was to claim an assist for the second goal too.
That came four minutes into the second half, Storey heading on Tom Barkhuizen's long throw in for Evans to fire home from inside the six-yard box.
Barnsley, already assured of a place in the play-offs, pushed for a way back into the game but found the North End defence in good form.
This was a fourth clean sheet in a row and a fifth under McAvoy.
The North End side had shown one change, Greg Cunningham replacing Sean Maguire. Cunningham's inclusion at left wing-back released Barkhuizen to partner Evans up front.
PNE threatened early on, Daniel Iversen's long ball from the back chased by Cunningham into the box, his low cross into the middle cut out by the Barnsley defence.
Conor Chaplin should have done better with a chance which fell his way in the ninth minute, the Tykes striker side-footing wide from a good position after being found by Cauley Woodrow's ball from the left.
Storey got up highest to meet a Ledson corner but sent his header wide of the far post before a good chance fell North End's way in the 28th minute.
Barkhuizen long throw in from the left got a touch off a Barnsley head, Sepp van den Berg nipping behind the visitors' defence but seeing his flick at the near post blocked by goalkeeper Brad Collins.
A long throw at the other end of the pitch gave Barnsley a sight of goal eight minutes later.
Callum Brittain launched the ball into the box, Daryl Dike helped it on and Michal Helik tired his luck with an overhead kick which Iversen dived to his left to comfortably hold.
The Lilywhites went in front six minutes before half-time.
Ledson's corner from the left dropped into the six-yard box, Liam Lindsay stabbed at the ball and saw it blocked, the rebound falling to Storey who prodded it home from four yards.
In first-half stoppage time, Evans drove a shot just wide from the edge of the box after a free-kick had been partly cleared.
Barnsley made a triple substitution at half-time but the trio had little time to settle into the game before North End got their second goal in the 49th minute.
Storey leapt tremendously to flick on Barkhuizen's long throw in from the left, the ball falling to Evans in the six-yard box who swept a left-foot finish past Collins.
As Barnsley looked for a way back into the game, Mads Andersen heded over the bar after meeting Alex Mowatt's corner.
Andersen later saw a close-range shot deflect off Lindsay's leg, roll across the six-yard box and go wide.
As the second half progressed it was Barnsley doing most of the attacking with North End sitting on their lead.
Emil Riis and Brad Potts joined the action from the bench to add fresh legs as the home side looked to see the game out.
It needed a good save from Iversen to keep the two-goal cushion in tact in the 84th minute.
A corner from the left was cleared as far as substitute Jasper Moon, his shot on the turn from 10 yards blocked by the Danish keeper with his legs.
PNE: Iversen, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, van den Berg, Whiteman (Potts 82), Ledson, Cunningham, Browne, Barkhuizen (Riis 70), Evans (Bayliss 90). Subs (not used): Molumby, Huntington, Maguire, Sinclair, Gordon, Hudson.
Barnsley:Collins, Solbauer (Sibbick 46), Helik, Andersen, Brittain, Palmer (Moon 46), Mowatt, Styles (Williams 84), Chaplin (Morris 46), Woodrow (Adeboyejo 63), Dike. Subs (not used): Odour, Halme,, Thompson, Walton.
Referee: Matt Donohue (Manchester)
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