Preston 2-1 Burton: Albion relegated as North End miss out on play-offs
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 06/05/18 3:56pm
Burton were relegated from the Sky Bet Championship after a 2-1 defeat at Preston, who missed out on a play-off spot.
Louis Moult won it in added time for 10-man Preston, who finished seventh after Derby secured the final play-off place thanks to victory over Barnsley, with the Yorkshire club joining Burton in the bottom three.
Hope Akpan had equalised midway through the second half for Burton, which cancelled out Callum Robinson's opener.
At that stage, the Brewers were staying up, but they were left needing a late winner after Bolton scored two quick-fire goals to beat Nottingham Forest. Instead, Moult tucked home on the break at the other end.
It was an even opening to a game that Preston knew was must-win, but news soon filtered through that Derby had taken the lead against Barnsley.
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That result would end Preston's play-off hopes but they set about keeping up their end of the bargain as Robinson was denied one-on-one by Stephen Bywater after 25 minutes.
But the forward responded a minute later by putting Preston ahead. Josh Harrop's corner was met by Paul Huntington, whose header back across goal found Robinson four yards out to nod in the opener.
It should have been two after 33 minutes as Robinson squared for Sean Maguire who fired off the underside of the crossbar from six yards.
Preston were dominant and thought they had doubled their advantage three minutes later when Billy Bodin turned a cross into the net, but the referee and linesman ruled he had done so with his hand - and showed the Wales international a yellow card.
It was to prove a nightmare day for Bodin as he was sent off five minutes after the break, picking up his second booking for simulation.
That lifted Burton spirits as Luke Murphy broke through midfield and unleashed a shot, but one that was comfortable for Declan Rudd in the Preston goal.
And Nigel Clough's side came even closer on the hour mark through Liam Boyce, whose near-post header drifted just wide.
Three minutes later though came the goal that looked like it could secure Burton's safety. The ball broke to Akpan who curled a stunning finish into the top corner from 20 yards.
Ten-man Preston rallied, coming close in the 74th minute when Paul Gallagher's shot was pushed wide by Bywater before Tom Clarke headed just wide from the resulting corner.
And they sealed the win which broke Burton hearts three minutes into added time. North End hit the Brewers - who had entered all-out attack mode - on the counter and Ben Pearson squared for Moult to tap the winner into an empty net.
Alex Neil: "The players always give it everything and I've been privileged to coach them this year. I've really enjoyed my year and there's much more to come going forward.
"We are not far away and we have improvement to make but with the heart, desire, quality we've got, I think we've had a fantastic season."
Nigel Clough: "Everybody in dressing room is really flat as you would expect, there are a lot of upset players in there. But we are down and have been relegated because of a reason - over 46 games we haven't been good enough it's as simple as that.
"We just didn't get enough points ultimately, we had too many draws and we wasted too many opportunities across the course of the season. What made it worse for us is that it all happened so late (today). Bolton were always going to be the problem, you always worry when your rivals are playing against a team with nothing to play for."