Preston NE 1 - 0 Crawley
Saturday 29th March 2014 - 15:00 (League One)
A second win in five days for North End and six points out of six after this latest home win against John Gregory's Crawley. After being a bit of a bogey team for North End we finally laid the ghost to rest with a solitary goal but it really should have been a few more in a solid but sometimes nervous victory. Number 23 for Joe Garner after a quarter of an hour was enough on the day against a Crawley team who were well organised and closed us down quite well for long periods of the game. We had three or four really good chances but for some scuffed shots and some superb goalkeeping the margin would have been much more comfortable and the now familiar nail biting last ten minutes would have passed off significantly more peacefully.
North End started well with a fairly attacking line up including Gallagher and Holmes on the wings giving us plenty of options in the early stages. Garner and Beavon were winning almost every ball up front and it was no surprise when we took the lead early in the game. A pin point cross from Keith Keane on the right hand side was beautifully met by the head of Garner and the in-form striker slotted the ball inside the right hand post to give North End the lead. Crawley had their moments and you can see why they are more than holding their position in this division. Two decent chances from Garner and a shot from the edge of the box from Kilkenny failed to increase our lead but we looked comfortable enough as the teams marched off for the half time interlude.
No changes at half time but we should have been two up right at the start of the second period when Garner scuffed a shot from almost the penalty spot. North End were having the better of the play with the visitors only getting occasional breakaways but a Beavon flicked header and a great chance again for Garner both went begging as frustration started to creep in. Frustration as well on the terraces with some very indifferent officiating I'm afraid to say and although I am loathe to call referees I have to say Mr Webb did not have one of his better days. Jones in the Crawley goal then saved brilliantly again from a Holmes free kick and as much as we tried the second goal just wouldn't come. We managed to hold out fairly comfortably this time for a deserved victory on the day and a great three points.
This wasn't our best performance of the season but seven games from the end it is all about results and not performances. We looked lively up front and the back four were steady enough but once again we just lacked a little creativity in the centre of the park but its the manager's way to grind teams down with a solid midfield. Looking at the league table you would find it difficult to argue with him and although we are not always pretty, we are, more often than not, very solid. With other results mostly going our way, the door is still slightly ajar and so its full steam ahead down the Bristol Channel as the bandwagon rolls on to Ashton Gate next Saturday.