Long trip ends in delight for Preston

Simon Huggon on the attack for Preston
Simon Huggon on the attack for Preston
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Preston returned to winning ways on the road after two successive draws in the NHML Premier Division.

The 150-mile journey to whitley Bay and Tynemouth was always going to be a telling factor for Preston and a strong and well organised opposition didn’t make things easy either.

Within five minutes of the start Preston were given a wake up call as the Whitley forward took the ball in the D, then turned strongly to fire home into the bottom left corner.

The visitors responded within six minutes when a ball was played through from Rowlands to find Sutcliffe unmarked at the top of the area. His reverse stick shot was deflected home on the far post by David Greenough to put the scores level

This goal brought a more composed approach from Preston who looked to push forward.

Steve Masterson had three drag flicks which brought saves from the home keeper goalkeeper, as Preston went in search of that second strike.

Simon Huggon caused problems in Whitley Bay’s defence, drawing the keeper out on a number of occasions yet he could not capitalise on the one-on-one opportunities.

The Tyneside outfit were not without their chances too. A team renowned for scoring goals put Preston’s defence under spells of pressure, after stealing the ball off Preston high up the pitch.

Yet the visitors held firm to see the scoreline remain level going into the half-time break.

Preston came out in the second half with a patient approach. Sitting deep, they looked to wait for the ball to turn over and catch the opposition out with quick breakaway attempts.

However, with 50 minutes on the clock, the home side went close to extending their lead when the ball was slipped under Preston keeper Poxon only for the diving Jonathan Platt to sweep the ball away to safety off the line.

Poxon then made a fine save from a drag flick and a follow up deflected shot.

With only 12 minutes left and the scores level, Preston surged forward.

James Sutcliffe glided past two players, slipped the ball through to Masterson who was clattered on the stick by the goalkeeper.

This was to prove costly, with not only a short-corner being given but also the goalkeeper being sent to the sin bin for being the last man.

With only a kicking back in goal, Steve Masterson drag flicked high into the goal to make it 2-1 to the visitors.

Preston then missed two golden opportunities to extend their lead, including striking the post with a Greenough reverse-stick strike.

However, on 65 minutes Sinclair forced his way through the back-line to strike a ball hard at the kicking-back who made an against-all-odds save.

The ball, however, looped up to Sinclair again who released Greenough and he fired into the open net.

Just when Preston thought they’d sealed it, the home side squeezed home a second to set up a tense last two minutes.

However Preston were resilient and held out for a well fought victory.

Player-Coach Sinclair said after the game “we came here to get 3 points, and the job was done.

It was not our finest hockey performance however the character and manner in which we stuck at the task is what has pleased me most”.

Preston travel to Leeds Gryphons next weekend.