Burton 1-2 Preston: Struggling Brewers lose to Preston
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 09/12/17 8:53pm
Tom Clarke played a captain's role as his 66th-minute goal set Preston on the way to all three points with a 2-1 win against struggling Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.
Just as he did in the same fixture last season, the Preston captain found himself in an advanced position to take advantage of a loose ball and find the back of the net, converting from close range as Albion looked to clear.
It opened up a previously tight game and when substitute Daryl Horgan found the bottom corner on 83 minutes to double the lead for Alex Neil's men it ensured that Albion were heading for a seventh consecutive home league defeat, equalling a 10-year-old divisional record set by Luton.
Preston had further chances to increase their lead but Stephen Bywater stood tall to deny Callum Robinson from close range and the former Aston Villa youngster was also frustrated to see another effort cannon back off the inside of the post.
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Despite all of Preston's efforts to make it three it was Burton striker Lucas Akins who capped a hard-working performance with a stoppage-time goal, lashing in off the underside of the crossbar amid a scramble on the edge of the six yard box to cut the deficit but it was too little too late.
A rush of blood to the head early on saw Preston keeper Chris Maxwell race out of his goal to challenge Akins on the left and when he got his challenge completely wrong the Burton striker had a difficult chance from wide out to try and find the empty net but he only succeeded in rippling the side netting.
Preston full back Darnell Fisher forced Bywater into an excellent save when his curling 25-yard effort seemed destined for the top corner of the net.
Will Miller tried to beat Maxwell from just inside the box only to fire straight at the keeper and Akins was inches away from meeting a Matty Palmer free kick that just drifted wide of the post.
Albion had John Brayford to thank for keeping them on level terms just before half-time when Robinson found a way past Bywater from a tight angle only for the Burton full-back to be perfectly placed on the cover to clear off the line.
Preston upped their game in the second half and Albion could not find a response when it mattered most.
Nigel Clough: "Today it came down to decisions. I thought it was a foul for the first goal and we should have had a penalty 30 seconds later.
"Those two decisions dictated the outcome of the game today. Preston were the better team and had the better players but that doesn't always mean that you win the football match. Ben Turner has been clambered all over by two players, not just one, and it is a clear free-kick just before they score.
"At the other end the lad has slid in and handled the ball and stopped the cross coming in. That two decisions in the space of a minute that have changed the course of the game."
Alex Neil: "We had a great shot from Darnell (Fisher), which the keeper makes a fantastic save to put it out for a corner, and Callum (Robinson) has one cleared off the line and we had a couple of decent chances on the edge of the box which maybe we didn't take full advantage of."
"I felt that the Burton centre-backs had dealt with Jordan [Hugill] well and I wanted to give them something else to think about.
"It was a bit of a gamble making the change because we lose the presence of Jordan but I felt if we could get it down and move it better that we could get in behind the midfield and thankfully the players made that work and it changed the game."