Royals punish Preston at Deepdale
Jon Parkin hit an 85th-minute penalty for Preston, but it was not enough to deny the visiting Royals - who until tonight had only claimed two points from 12 since their only other league win this season, a 3-1 victory at Barnsley on August 29. An admirable late effort from the hosts, which saw them twice hit the woodwork and pull one back from the spot through Parkin, was in vain. The Lilywhites' first chance came when Neil Mellor and Chris Sedgwick combined in the third minute with the latter volleying just over Adam Federici's crossbar from the edge of the box. Preston were zipping the ball around, full of confidence and ideas, but despite their early dominance Andy Lonergan spared Preston's blushes with a fine stop after Jobi McAnuff stole in at the far post. Level terms was a fair reflection of the game with 15 minutes gone but Reading's five-man midfield slowly began to work. Kebe fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of the Preston goal in the 17th minute, but Billy Jones's outstretched leg denied McAnuff another chance at goal. The visitors took the lead with 34 minutes gone after Richard Chaplow dwelled on the ball in midfield. Brian Howard was quick to close him down and the ball broke for striker Church who, after checking he was onside, advanced unopposed towards Lonergan's goal and stroked the ball home. And a second came in 43rd minute when Kebe got himself on the end of a hopeful long ball. The North End defence pushed up and looked for the offside but the Royals winger raced through and with just Lonergan to beat curled home. The home side thought they had pulled one back minutes into the second half when Chris Brown did well to get in behind the Reading defence and finish neatly, but he was ruled offside. With 54 minutes gone McAnuff had another half-chance but never really struck the ball properly. The Royals midfielder unsuccessfully tried his luck again moments later after a long run from Kebe. Preston were desperate to pull one back and almost did when Federici misjudged a shot-come-cross from Wallace which dipped late in the day. With 20 minutes remaining Wallace tried his luck with a powerful drive from 30-yards which looked to be heading in, but the Reading goalkeeper saved well. Mellor was then denied a superb goal in the 76th minute when he hit a combination of post and crossbar. And just a minute later Wallace lined up yet another long-range effort only to be denied by the left-upright once more. A shove by Ivar Ingimarsson on substitute Parkin in the 84th minute saw the Lilywhites awarded a penalty. The big Preston forward dusted himself down to send Federici the wrong way and despite other late chances the hosts were unable to level.
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