Preston shoot down Seagulls
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Preston North End earned a convincing 3-0 win over ten-man Brighton at Deepdale.Preston North End have strengthened their place in the play-offs with a convincing 3-0 win over ten-man Brighton & Hove Albion.
A Graham Alexander penalty followed by strikes from Richard Cresswell and David Nugent gave Billy Davies's side all three points to keep them fourth in the table.
For The Seagulls, it was their sixth straight defeat that now takes Mark McGhee's squad into the bottom three following Gillingham's 1-1 draw at Queens Park Rangers.
It proved a good evening for Preston legend Sir Tom Finney, as the guest of honour on his 83rd birthday saw his club dominate possession in the first half.
The Lilywhites then got in behind their South Coast opponents, but Nugent failed to beat Brighton goalkeeper Alan Blayney with his header from Alexander's long ball.
Cresswell missed another chance with a mistimed header while American Eddie Lewis failed to connect to a cross from the right and Paul McKenna was narrowly wide with a left-foot strike from the edge of the box.
However, Preston's attacking endeavour finally paid off on the half hour mark, as Brighton's Gary Hart was sent off for taking down Cresswell in the box, as he went in one-on-one with Blayney.
Alexander stepped up to send the on-loan Southampton goalkeeper the wrong way with his spot kick for 1-0.
With the extra man, Preston started exploiting the extra space and Chris Sedgwick tested Blayney with a left-foot shot before Preston doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time.
Alexander's long ball forward found Lewis on the left wing before his cross was finished by Cresswell, who scored at the far post for a 2-0 lead at the break.
The home side continued to dominate play after the restart and sealed victory when fine passing play saw McKenna pick out Nugent in front of goal to strike home Preston's third goal on 51 minutes.
The remainder of the contest saw Blayney halting Preston from further increasing their lead, with Lewis going close moments later while a fine double save from the Brighton keeper denied Cresswell and Nugent.
In the end, Preston stay on course for post-season football next month while Brighton face a fight to stay in The Championship in the final weeks.