Full Time After Extra Time This is a live match. Extra Time Half Time

Stoke City vs Preston North End.

Sky Bet Championship.

Stoke City 0

    Preston North End 2

    • A Browne (58th minute)
    • T Barkhuizen (75th minute)

    Stoke 0-2 Preston: North End hold spot in top six after seeing off Potters

    Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at the bet365 Stadium

    Wednesday 12 February 2020 23:21, UK

    Stoke v Preston 1:45
    Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke and Preston

    Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen were on target as promotion-chasing Preston secured a 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win at Stoke.

    Preston boss Alex Neil's first visit to the bet365 Stadium since spurning Stoke's advances earlier in the season proved to be a positive one as his side closed the gap on the automatic places to three points.

    Stoke have improved under Michael O'Neill's guidance since their public pursuit of former Norwich boss Neil but will need to be more clinical going forward in order to remain clear of the relegation places.

    Preston dominated possession in the opening stages but neither side threatened to break the deadlock until the 25th minute, when James McClean laid the ball off for Sam Clucas, whose low effort from 20 yards was cleared off the line by Lilywhites defender Ben Davies.

    Image: Tom Barkhuizen celebrates scoring Preston's second goal

    Two minutes later Tyrese Campbell cut in from the right and curled an effort towards the top corner, only for Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd to deny him with an outstanding full-stretch save.

    A minute later Campbell and Nick Powell were crowded out from Tommy Smith's low cross and Rudd clawed away a Danny Batth header from Smith's free-kick after 34 minutes as the hosts finished the first half strongly.

    Stoke remained dominant after the interval and Campbell should have opened the scoring after 56 minutes. Clucas' free-kick was headed down by Batth and Campbell's shot on the turn from 12 yards flashed inches wide of the post.

    More on this story

    Instead Preston went ahead two minutes later with their first shot on target. Johnson's corner ricocheted off Davies and Browne reacted fastest to poke home from inside the six-yard box.

    Moments later Darnell Fisher's foul on Nick Powell sparked a mass brawl, with McClean and Ben Pearson booked for their roles in the chaos.

    Substitute Sam Vokes headed straight at Rudd as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, while at the other end Barkhuizen was denied by Jack Butland.

    But Barkhuizen doubled Preston's lead 15 minutes from time, with Davies' aerial presence again causing problems as he nodded Paul Gallagher's cross down for the former Morecambe forward to stroke home.

    Stoke huffed and puffed in the closing stages but were unable to find a way through a well-drilled North End defence.

    What the managers said...

    Stoke's Michael O'Neill: "We feel a bit hard done-by. I thought we were more than a match for Preston for large portions of the game and we looked the side more likely to score in the game as well. We've been done off two set-pieces. We just didn't manage to get ahead and then we were punished as a result of that.

    "We're playing against a team pushing for promotion at the top end of the table and we were more than a match for them. It shows you the margins in terms of how you lose a game and it's disappointing because we had a chance to jump two or three places in the table tonight and it hasn't happened for us."

    Preston's Alex Neil: "I'm happy in that we won the game. We didn't play anywhere near as well as we can. We showed different strengths from what we normally do. We showed great resolve, great grit and did the basics really well. That was certainly one of our poorest performances in quite a while but we got the job done.

    "I think Stoke are very much a momentum-based team. If they get the first goal it suits them even more because they can sit even deeper and they've got pace at the other end of the pitch to cause you problems."

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