Football: Preston prosper on Beck's philosophy

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Preston North End. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Chesterfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

AN ENCOUNTER with John Beck dispels the notion that there are no characters left in football. Which other manager would, in his programme notes, implore his players to 'flood the dark corners of fear and superstition with the bright light of reason and knowledge . . . dispersing hobgoblins of the imagination and revealing the truth that sets men free'?

Had he suggested instead that they 'keep getting the ball into the danger areas and the goals will surely come', it would have amounted to much the same thing in the context of a Third Division match. But then the author of Cambridge United's meteoric rise is clearly from a league of his own.

The text, he conceded, is borrowed. 'It is from The Art of Living by Wilfred A Peterson, an American philosopher,' he said. 'I found it in a bookshop in America three or four years ago and I treat it as my bible. There is a lot of truth in all his axioms and they can apply to football as well as to life.

'The point is perhaps to look at things in a different light. Some might have to think about what it means but in life it is important to think.'

One way or another, the message achieved its aim as Preston, vehicle of Beck's new crusade, overcame such fear as a half-time deficit might have stirred to disperse Chesterfield with four goals during the last 40 minutes, three of them from Tony Ellis, who now has 12 this season. Preston have won five home games in a row and head the table by a point.

On the field, Beck's philosophy owes everything to science and the relentless pursuit of the percentage theory. The favoured method is to attack the penalty area from the flanks. Two of the Ellis triple came when Mike Conroy, his strike partner, went wide on the left and crossed to the near post, while the penalty from which he scored his first stemmed directly from a handled corner. Paul Raynor scored Preston's other goal.

Chesterfield might welcome theories on how to escape their own demons, having lost seven in a row. They were worthy of the lead Neil Lyne gave them after a defensive muddle, but when the new signing Dave Moss handled Chris Sulley's corner at 1-1, the veteran defender Lawrie Madden argued his way to a red card and the numerical disadvantage was crucial from then on.

Goals: Lyne (41) 0-1; Raynor (50) 1-1; Ellis pen (72) 2-1; Ellis (81) 3-1; Ellis (90) 4-1.

Preston (4-4-2): Woods; Masefield, Nebbeling, Matthewson, Sulley; Ainsworth, Cartwright, Challender, Raynor; Ellis, Conroy. Substitutes not used: Norbury, Holland, Bamber (gk).

Chesterfield (4-4-2): Marples; Hebberd, Law, Madden, Carr (Hewitt, 84); Curtis, Moss, Dennis, Jules; Lyne, Norris (Davies, 84). No other substitute.

Referee: A Wilkie (County Durham).