Preston North End finished the season in style after a 3-1 win against Watford.Advertisement
Phil Brown kept faith with youth and one youngster, Jamie Proctor scored the third goal late on.
Daniel Devine and Scott Leather kept their places at the back while there were home debuts for teenagers Doyle Middleton and George Miller.
Barry Nicholson and Iain Hume got PNE’s other goal after Andreas Weimann had given Watford the lead early on.
On an overcast afternoon Watford lit up Deepdale for the first 15 minutes and rightly took the lead, but after a poor start PNE played brilliantly and were good value for their win.
North End started to move the ball around well and the equaliser came thanks to an incisive spell of passing and a hint of good fortune.
PNE were knocking the ball around brilliantly just outside Watford’s area when Nicholson decided to have a go from distance. The ball took a wicked deflection and beat England under 21 goalkeeper Scott Loach.
The Lilywhites pressed for the rest of the half but even though Loach looked nervy in goal the home side couldn’t take the lead.
That changed after the break. PNE won a free kick just outside the area and Hume curled it into the corner of the net.
North End’s top scorer was taken off just after scoring with Jamie Proctor coming on.
With time running out Watford threw players forward but couldn’t get any service to the league’s top scorer Danny Graham.
The visitors were left exposed at the back and the impressive Keith Treacy squared the ball to Proctor and the young man bundled the ball over the line.
The goal was no more than PNE deserved and their performance will give them confidence going into next season.
North End have improved greatly since Phil Brown took over. They’ve played 22 games and picked up 24 points after earning just 18 points under Darren Ferguson.
Since Brown took over on January 6 no team in the bottom seven have got as many points as PNE and even Watford in 14th have only managed 22 points themselves.
Iain Hume has confirmed that he will be staying at Deepdale and fans will hope the likes of Keith Treacy and Barry Nicholson will do the same.
One man who definitely won’t be staying is Billy Jones. The full back has captained the side for the last nine games and will be sorely missed.
Jones was named PNE’s player of the year before the game and he fully deserved it after four years of great service.
North End must now look towards building a team capable of bouncing back next season and judging by today’s performance they have every chance of coming straight back up.
PNE: Turner 6, Leather 7, Morgan 6, Devine 7, Jones 7, Nicholson 8, Ashbee 6 (Middleton 6), Carter 6, Treacy 9, Hume 7 (Proctor 8), Hayes 7 (Miller 6). Unused Subs: Arestidou, Clucas, Mayor, Barton.
Watford: Loach 5, Hodson 6, Taylor 6 (Hoban 6), Mariappa 6, Doyley 6, Cowie 6, Eustace 5, Murray 6 (Buckley 7), Deeney 5 (Whichelow 6), Graham 7, Weimann 7. Unused subs: Gilmartin, Bryan, Drinkwater, Assombalonga.