Preston edge out play-off rivals Swansea thanks to Brad Potts’ first-half goal
Brad Potts’ first-half goal proved the difference as Preston edged out play-off chasing rivals Swansea 1-0.
Preston’s victory – a third in four matches – lifted them level on points with the Swans, who only remain in the top six on goal difference.
Ryan Lowe’s side just about deserved their win against a previously in-form Swansea side who had won six of their previous eight games.
Amid a rather subdued early atmosphere at Deepdale, it was the hosts who carved out the first opportunity.
Robbie Brady darted down the left before crossing in for the stretching Emil Riis, who could not direct his header on target.
The Swans were looking a little ragged in the early stages, and it was no surprise when they threatened again.
Andrew Hughes flung over a high cross this time, with skipper Alan Browne meeting it and volleying straight at goalkeeper Steven Benda.
Preston fluffed a gilt-edged chance after 17 minutes.
A sweeping move culminated with Potts crossing in for Riis, only for the big Dane to side-foot wide from six yards.
Finally the Swans made some progress going forward, and the returning Joel Piroe – in acres of space – headed Jay Fulton’s sweet cross wide.
Preston struck after half an hour. After Swans defender Harry Darling inexplicably failed to clear Browne’s cross, Ched Evans saw an initial strike saved by Benda, before Potts gleefully mopped up the rebound.
It was no more than North End deserved as they had dominated.
The goal did appear to spark something in Swansea.
Within minutes Ryan Manning went close with a header and Olivier Ntcham saw a thumping effort blocked.
North End came close to grabbing a second early in the second half.
Evans rose well to meet Potts’ outswinging cross, but his header was a couple of feet wide.
At the other end, Preston keeper Freddie Woodman was brilliant when somehow keeping out Fulton’s powerful strike from eight yards.
The game was really opening up as the hour mark passed.
Piroe saw a free-kick deflected just off target for the Swans, who were now on top.
That was until Preston responded again, with the dangerous Evans this time nodding an effort past a post from Brady’s free-kick.
The same two combined again minutes later, with Benda this time keeping Evans out.
Such was the flow of the game, the Swans soon threatened again, only for substitute Oli Cooper to volley wildly over the top from just 10 yards.
A brilliant Woodman save from Manning in stoppage time ensured North End hung on for their narrow victory.
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