Town v Preston North End
Town: Chris Weale,Joe Jacobson (c), Dominic Iorfa (Luke Summerfield), Shaun Miller, Tom Bradshaw (Tom Eaves), Jon Taylor, Aaron Wildig (Paul Parry), Connor Goldson, Ryan Woods, Joseph Mills, Asa Hall
Subs: Joe Anyon, Bahrudin Atajic, Niall Flint, Alex Fletcher
Preston North End: Declan Rudd, Scott Laird, Tom Clarke, Bailey Wright, Kevin Davies, Stuart Beavon, Lee Holmes, Paul Gallagher, John Welsh (c), Jack King, Alan Browne
Subs: Thorsten Stuckmann, Chris Humphrey, Joe Garner, David Buchanan, Craig Davies, Josh Brownhill, Neil Kilkenny
Ref: N Miller
Assistants: B Gordon and M Dicicco
Fourth Official: S Copeland
At: 9,636 with 322
Mike Jackson makes a number of changes to the side that dropped to defeat against Crewe on Friday with Shaun Miller, Asa Hall, Joseph Mills and Ryan Woods coming into the starting line-up. Tamika Mkandawire has a foot problem which looks like it will keep him out of action for the rest of the season, Dave Winfield has picked up a sickness bug while Paul Parry, Tom Eaves and Bahrudin Atajic drop to the bench.
Joe Jacobson was moved into the left centre-back and was also named as captain with Tamika Mkandawire missing with a foot problem, Joseph Mills was at left-back as Town attempted to keep their slight hope of survival alive. Jon Taylor was sitting behind Miller and Bradshaw and Woods was sitting in front of the defence as Town lined up with a diamond formation in the midfield.
It was all Preston in the opening minutes with the home side attacking the Town goal with all they could. Town were having to dig in and counter this early pressure and they were doing this well, Asa Hall was strong to get an important block in after the ball fell free in the Town box to allow Preston a good sight of goal.
The formation that Town were playing was giving Preston a lot of possession but it was also allowing Town to get forward and counter when the chance came. There was a lot of hard work being down by the Town defence and Connor Goldson in particular was getting in the right positions to get in some important clearances.
The best chance of the opening exchanges came from Preston after good pressure saw the ball drop to Stuart Bevan who had found a lot of space in the Town box, he looked to hit the ball home but Dominic Iorfa slide in with a perfectly timed block to snuff out the danger.
As the clock ticked on Town began to get more attacking possession and counter attacks to take the game to the home side. There were a couple of good chances before the half hour mark with first a good counter attack that just lacked the vital touch on the edge of the box, then another good move that saw Ryan Woods deliver a good ball to the back post that was turned behind for a Town corner and then a good looking ball towards a Bradshaw run into the box.
It was Preston who grabbed the lead on 33 minutes when a looping cross to the back post was met by Lee Holmes who had risen well and his downward header had the power on it to take it past Weale to make it 1-0 to the home side.
It was 2-0 to Preston 6 minutes later when a Preston corner was looped into the Town box, Goldson appeared to be shoved but the ref gave nothing and the ball found Bailey Wright, he then rifled in a superb shot that flew into the top of the Town net.
Town to their credit kept going and when the Preston defence dawdled and weren't decisive and this allowed Shaun Miller to nick in and gain possession in the Preston box, keeper Rudd came and Miller kept his cool to skip round the keeper and then kept his composure to smash the ball past the two defenders who had dropped onto the line to make it 2-1.
The second half started with changes for both sides, ex Town winger Chris Humphrey on to replace Tom Clarke while Jacko bought on Paul Parry and Tom Eaves to replace Aaron Wildig and Tom Bradshaw.
Preston grabbed a third goal on 57 minutes with a good flowing move that saw them break quickly and send the ball down the right, Bevan had a run in of goal and then drove the ball to the back post to find Paul Gallagher who drove a low shot in past Weale to make it 3-1.
Town had a good break moments later when Eaves and Miller combined well with Eaves getting the ball to Miller who had found space on the left, he cut it back to Asa Hall on the edge of the box who drove in a shot that was well blocked by the Preston defence.
Preston were handed a fourth goal after Goldson tackled Beavon in the box, no Preston players or supporters appealed but ref Miller must have seen something that 10,000 others hadn't and awarded a penalty to the home side. Paul Gallagher placed the ball and calmly despatched a low drive the opposite way to Weale's dive to make it 4-1 to Preston.
Town continued to push and they were rewarded with a nicely worked goal, it started with Eaves receiving the ball and then pushing it wide to Paul Parry, he took the ball on and then whipped in a great ball to the back post and Luke Summerfield had gambled and was there with a lovely header to make it 4-2.
Preston grabbed a fifth goal with 10 minutes to go after Luke Summerfield had been a little too strong on the edge of the box to give away a free-kick. It was Paul Gallagher who placed the ball and he drove in a great shot through the wall and in to the far corner past the dive of Weale to make it 5-2 to Preston and a hat-trick to Gallagher.
With 5 minutes to go Ryan Woods flew in with a high tackle and there were gasps from the crowd and calls for a red card from the home side but ref Miller gave himself some thinking time and only produced the yellow card for Woodsy.
In the end Town were well beaten by a decent Preston side who should be in with a good chance in the play-offs, goals by Miller and Summerfield had given Town hope but not enough.