Hats off to Preston

Sky Bet Championship
Bolton Wanderers 1 Preston North End 3

PRESTON North End doffed their caps to match winner Sean Maguire - on the club's annual Gentry Day.

North End's near-4,000 visiting fans wore bowler hats to remember those supporters and ex-players who had died in the past year, as is their annual tradition.

Irishman Maguire, who had been out injured for four months, climbed off the bench to score twice as Preston came from behind to claim the win against their Lancastrian neighbours - and moved within three points of the play-off places.

Manager Alex Neil was effusive in his praise for his striker.

He said: "it's fantastic for him.

"After so many months' out, I don't think he would have dreamed what happened on his return game.

"Sean came on and delivered and he has now scored six goals, while our top goalscorer has eight, so it just shows his quality.

"To be out for so long was frustrating and we are delighted for Sean."

The result was a crushing blow for Bolton Wanderers, especially as they had taken the lead thanks to a first-half strike from Mark Beevers on a bitterly cold day at the Macron Stadium.

Phil Parkinson's men remain four points above the relegation zone, although Hull City and Barnsley, who are directly below them, each have a game in-hand.

Preston dominated the opening exchanges.

Firstly Alan Browne teed up Billy Bodin and the Welsh youngster found himself one on one with Bolton goalkeeper Ben Alwnick, but his shot was easily saved.

Then Browne pounced on a mix-up in the home side's defence and sent another good ball in for Bodin who was again denied by Alnwick.

Bolton went in front totally against the run of play.

David Wheater's header was blocked by the Preston defence, but Beevers reached the rebound and launched the ball past the visitors' goalkeeper Declan Rudd.

With the Macron faithful roaring them on, Bolton began to gain in confidence.

And they so nearly doubled their lead when they launched a counter attack.

Captain Darren Pratley broke down the middle and fed Filipe Morais on the right flank.

The Portuguese sent a delicious ball into the box with a free Tyler Walker waiting to pounce, but Preston defender Calum Woods reached it in the nick of time to clear behind.

On-loan Nottingham Forest striker Walker, the son of Forest legend Des Walker, was getting into dangerous positions and causing Preston's back line problems, as was Bolton's leading goalscorer Sammy Ameobi.

Walker was involved again on the half-hour mark when his pass reached Josh Vela, who flicked it out to Ameobi.

The Nigerian sped past Woods and sent the ball in for the waiting Antonee Robinson, but it n six went beyond the far post.

Preston, who were without influential centre-half Tom Clarke, galvanised towards the end of the first-half.

Bodin nearly made it third time lucky when he, once more, found himself one on one with Alnwick, only to see his thunderbolt tipped over the crossbar.

Bolton, who were without regular first teamers Stephen Darby, Derik Osede, Craig Noone and Will Buckley, as well as the suspended Mark Little and Karl Henry, gifted Preston the qualifier seven minutes into the second-half.

Callum Robinson slipped the ball beyond the Bolton defence to Tom Barkuizen on the left of the box and the midfielder side footed it home into the right-hand corner of Alnwick’s goal.

The visitors continued to exert the pressure, with Robinson and Bodin both going close.

Bolton brought on defensive-minded midfielder Jan Kirchhoff to shore things up, the German making his debut having signed on a free transfer last week following spells with Bayern Munich and Sunderland.

And he nearly gave his new side the lead when Morais' ball reached him, only to see his header comfortably saved by Rudd.

But just 12 minutes after replacing Bodin, substitute Maguire gave Preston the lead.

Bolton again failed to deal with Robinson and the ex-Aston Villa man pulled the ball back across the box to Maguire who tucked it away from close range at the near post.

The home side nearly levelled minutes after Preston had gone ahead.

Robinson's ball found Vela, but the midfielder's shot from the left side of the box was saved by Rudd.

Preston, who recorded only their first win in seven games at the Macron, finally killed off the match two minutes into stoppage time.

Substitute Josh Harrop reached the ball first and squared it to Maguire, who cooly slotted it beyond Alnwick.

Parkinson said: "We did a lot of good things in the first-half and we had some good moments.

"They were better than us in the second-half and they were more threatening going forward and then they punished us.

"Their equaliser really lifted them and we didn't respond as we would have liked."

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick; Dervite, Wheater, Beevers; Vela, Karacan (Kirchhoff,63), Pratley (Wilbraham, 84), Morais, Robinson; Ameobi; Walker (Le Fondre, 63).
Substitutes not used: Howard, Taylor, Burke and Clough.

Preston North End: Rudd; Davies, Woods (Harrop, 68), Cunningham, Huntington; Pearson, Browne, Robinson, Barkhuizen, Gallagher (Earl, 88); Bodin (Maguire, 64).
Substitutes not used: Maxwell, Spurr, Johnson and Moult.

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