Huddsf’ld 0 – 1 Preston
Preston moved to within two points of the Sky Bet Championship play-off places courtesy of Greg Cunningham’s second-half header as they defeated Huddersfield 1-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Both sides had come into the game in stuttering form and it showed in the first half as they failed to impose themselves on each other, with Preston’s Alvaro Fernandez having the best chances towards the end of the half.
Cunningham headed North End in front five minutes into the second period and the hosts failed to register a shot on target as they slipped to their ninth league defeat of the season.
Huddersfield had the first sniff of goal in the opening six minutes when Ben Jackson whipped a curling ball on to the head of Danny Ward, who headed over the bar from close range.
Preston settled into the game and also forced a chance of their own after some tricky footwork from Fernandez. He whipped a ball in towards Ali McCann but his header was comfortable saved by Lee Nicholls.
The first half was littered with wasted chances, fouls and mistakes with neither side able to take control.
Manchester United loanee Fernandez threatened to inject some quality at the end of the half but his low free-kick missed everyone and went just wide of the far post, before his powerful effort from close range was blocked by Nicholls as the sides went into the interval goalless.
The visitors made the breakthrough five minutes after the break as Cunningham rose highest at the far post from Ben Whiteman’s inswinging corner and nodded in, causing pandemonium in the away end.
Preston looked the more likely to add a second as Huddersfield failed to deal with another set-piece, but Ben Woodburn shanked his volley wide of the target as the home fans’ frustrations grew louder.
Ryan Lowe’s side boasted the best defence in the league and were happy to sit men behind the ball as Huddersfield pushed for an equaliser.
Preston had a couple of opportunities to extend their lead as Huddersfield committed men further up the pitch and Brad Potts found himself in acres of space down the right, but his cross was snuffed out with Emil Riis waiting on the penalty spot.
The away side continued to miss chances as Riis stood a ball up to the back post and an unmarked Fernandez fluffed his lines from close range with the score still at 1-0 heading into the closing stages.
The Terriers were wasteful going forward and Duane Holmes’ skied effort from range capped off a miserable performance as they remain in 23rd position.
What the managers said…
Huddersfield’s Mark Fotheringham: “We’ve got to start getting back to basics. We weren’t really at it and it was a really soft goal to concede again. We just couldn’t click into gear and kind of huffed and puffed. They worked really hard but it was frustrating, in front of our own fans.
“We had good bodies in the box but I don’t think we had any shots on target or troubled their keeper at all. There’s a lot of work to do.”
Preston’s Ryan Lowe: “I thought the football we played first half and then second half to get the goal was fantastic. The defenders have been brilliant but it starts from the front, we defend as a team. I thought Emil Riis was fantastic tonight, but people won’t look at his work rate or what he’s done because he didn’t score.
“Those performances are for those who travel all the way, whether it be Norwich or Huddersfield, they earn their hard-earned money to watch us and I love it when we put performances on like that.”