Preston North End 3 Derby County 0 match report: Triumphant night for PNE at Deepdale
Preston North End all but made themselves safe in the Championship and increased Derby's relegation fears with a fine victory over the Rams at Deepdale.
Goals from Ben Whiteman - his first in a PNE shirt - Ched Evans and Ryan Ledson delivered the win which was North End's first over the Rams at home since December 2008.
Whiteman headed them in front in the 18th minute after meeting Alan Browne's cross.
For a spell early in the second half they were clinging on to that lead but the arrival of Brad Potts from the bench gave North End some fresh energy and helped them kick on.
It was Potts' cross which Rams keeper David Marshall parried into the path of Evans to make it 2-0 in the 72nd minute.
Ledson wrapped-up the scoring in the 88th minute, his free-kick from the left-wing travelling through a crowded box and into the net.
Victory lifted Frankie McAvoy's men up to 14th place in the table, 13 points clear of third bottom club Rotherham who have three games in hand.
Interim head coach McAvoy had made just the one change to the side which had drawn 0-0 at Stoke, bringing back Liam Lindsay at the expense of Emil Riis.
Lindsay slotted back into the three-man defence, with Sepp van den Berg moving to right wing-back.
That allowed Barkhuizen to move up the pitch and partner Evans up front, taking Riis' place.
Derby started the better of the sides, having plenty of the ball but without doing a great deal with it, North End riding that pressure and settling into the game.
They had the first chance of the contest, Barkhuizen launching a long throw into the box from the left side.
It was flicked on and fell behind Browne, the PNE skipper hooking the ball over his shoulder but scuffing a shot wide of the post.
Whiteman drilled a shot into the ground and up over the bar but got things right in the 18th minute when he gave PNE the lead.
Barkhuizen slid a pass down the right-wing for Browne to chase, Browne getting to the byline and lifting a cross into the middle.
It was well flighted, Whiteman running in to meet it with a header from 12 yards which Marshall got a glove to but couldn't keep out.
Derby had the ball in the net in the 28th minute through Tom Lawrence but the flag went up for offside against the winger.
Five minutes before half-time Ledson put a header too high from Barkhuizen's cross.
The visitors, who had lost Andre Wisdom to injury during the first half, made a double substitution at the start of the second half, bringing on Martyn Waghorn and Lee Buchanan for Jason Knight and Craig Forsyth.
Evans saw an early second-half shot hit the back of Rams defender Matt Clarke in the box, before Andrew Hughes and Daniel Iversen came to PNE's rescue within a matter of seconds of one another.
When a Derby corner fell the way of Waghorn beyond the far post he struck a powerful shot which Hughes put himself in the way of to block superbly.
The ball ran out of the box to George Edmundson who fired goalwards, Iversen diving to push it away.
Derby maintained their pressure, Clarke lifting a shot too high at the near post after a good run and low cross from Buchanan.
Potts replaced goalscorer Whiteman in the 65th minute and was soon in the action to set up a chance for Barkhuizen.
Greg Cunningham and Potts both closed down a Derby player in his own half, Potts' pass finding Barkhuizen in the box whose right-foot shot was parried by Marshall diving to his left.
Potts' introduction really gave North End an injection of energy and he played his part in North End's second goal in the 72nd minute.
Barkhuizen got the ball down the left channel and played a pass down the side of the box to find Potts. His cross was parried by Marshall and fell into the path of Evans who tucked away the rebound with a low shot from six yards.
The icing was put on the cake two minutes from the end of regulation time with a third goal.
Greg Cunningham was tripped by Nathan Byrne on the left-wing, the foul brining the Derby man a yellow card.
Ledson took the free-kick right-footed, it keeping low as it travelled through a crowded box and into the net without anyone getting a touch.
It was a first home win since the end of February and part of an upward curve in results under McAvoy's stewardship.
PNE: Iversen, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, van den Berg, Ledson (Molumby 90), Whiteman (Potts 65), Cunningham, Browne, Barkhuizen (Riis 85), Evans (Maguire 90). Subs (not used): Huntington, Bayliss, Sinclair, Gordon, Ripley.
Derby: Marshall, Byrne, Wisdom (Edmundson 34), Clarke, Forsyth (Buchanan 46), Shinnie (Ebosele 77), Bird, Roberts, Knight (Waghorn 46), Lawrence, Kazim-Richards. Subs (not used): Sibley, Dixon, Watson, Brown, Roos.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)
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