Burton Albion 1-2 Preston North End - 09-Dec-2017 : Match Report
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.
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.
The first half was something of a midfield battle as both sides struggled to get on top of the game.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between. 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.