Preston lift play-off hopes
Chris Brown and Neil Mellor kept Preston's slender play-off hopes alive after defeating Doncaster.
Last Updated: 13/04/09 5:20pm
Chris Brown and Neil Mellor kept Preston's slender play-off hopes alive courtesy of a 2-0 success away to Doncaster.
Alan Irvine's side had not claimed three points on their travels since defeating leaders Wolves in January and had the recalled strike duo to thank for this triumph.
Brown headed home from Ross Wallace's cross in the 25th minute before Mellor's clinical left-foot finish put the game beyond Rovers with 19 minutes to go
Preston's dire away form - they had previously won only three times away from Deepdale - looks set to cost them a place in the top six but three points at the Keepmoat Stadium ensured they are still in with a shout.
Doncaster, on the other hand, are still not guaranteed Championship football next season but it would take an unlikely set of results to see them relegated.
Neither side managed to stamp their authority on the game in a dour opening 20 minutes.
But Rovers started to ask questions of the Preston defence and were unfortunate not to be in front 24 minutes in when Dean Shiels' glancing header looped towards the far post and came back off the upright with Andy Lonergan beaten.
Preston finally got into their stride and they took the lead a minute later with their first clear-cut opportunity.
Scottish winger Wallace found space on the left and whipped in an inviting cross for Brown to plant an unstoppable header beyond veteran goalkeeper Neil Sullivan from six yards out.
Buoyed by the goal, Preston pushed forward and almost doubled their lead when full-back Billy Jones rose highest to head a Chris Sedgwick centre just over the crossbar.
A terrible mix-up between Sullivan and Jos Van Nieuwstadt looked to have gifted Preston a second goal nine minutes into the second half.
Former Scotland keeper Sullivan and his central defender failed to deal with a routine ball forward and the ball broke loose to Mellor, who was left with a simple tap in but the referee's assistant adjudged the burly striker to have pushed Van Nieuwstadt in the back.
Rovers boss Sean O'Driscoll introduced Paul Heffernan after 63 minutes in a bid to add a cutting edge to his toothless attack.
But the home side were left with a mountain to climb when Mellor gave Preston breathing space 19 minutes from time.
Substitute Jon Parkin's tame left-foot shot fortuitously fell for the unmarked Mellor, who steadied himself before lashing a venomous left-foot strike into the far corner of the net.