Cresswell claims credit as Preston strengthen grip

Preston North End 2 - Derby County 0
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The Independent Football

The Preston manager, Billy Davies, was keen to stress that this play-off semi-final with Derby County is only at the half-way mark after his side seized the initiative in yesterday's first leg. David Nugent gave North End a first-half lead before Richard Cresswell - with Patrick Agyemang close by - was awarded a second goal after a series of ricochets to give North End a major advantage in the second leg at Pride Park on Thursday.

The Preston manager, Billy Davies, was keen to stress that this play-off semi-final with Derby County is only at the half-way mark after his side seized the initiative in yesterday's first leg. David Nugent gave North End a first-half lead before Richard Cresswell - with Patrick Agyemang close by - was awarded a second goal after a series of ricochets to give North End a major advantage in the second leg at Pride Park on Thursday.

"I'm very pleased, obviously, but we know it's only half-time," Davies said. "The first thing I said to the players at the end of the game was exactly that." He added, of the winner:"There are about nine players claiming it. Even if it hit somebody else, Cresswell would still be claiming it. I don't know who got the final touch but we're just delighted to get the second goal."

With their winger Eddie Lewis in outstanding form three weeks after an appendix operation North End started the better team. They took a deserved lead seven minutes before the break with a fine finish from Nugent, who registered his 22nd goal of the season.

After a woeful first-half, Derby were much improved after the interval, but North End still enjoyed the better chances, and with a minute remaining North End scored a crucial second after Cresswell had deflected Mo Konjic's attempted clearance of Matt Hill's cross over the line.

Davies' Derby counterpart, George Burley, who will miss Michael Johnson for up to six weeks after the defender suffered ligament damage, said the late goal was a "kick in the teeth" but hopes for a repeat of his team's 3-1 home win over North End last Sunday.

"First half, all credit to Preston, they put us under a lot of pressure and we never got passing at all and they could have scored one or two more," Burley said. "I felt comfortable in the second half and we were looking to get an equaliser so I thought we got a bit of a kick in the teeth, conceding the second goal late on and it was a little bit unfortunate."

He added: "Preston were celebrating as if they were already at Cardiff but let's remember what the last score was at Pride Park. Anything could happen. Preston's home record is exceptional, but their away record is not so good in the last season."

Goals: Nugent (38) 1-0, Cresswell (90) 2-0.

Preston North End (4-4-2): Nash; Mawene, Davis, Lucketti, Hill; Sedgwick, McKenna, O'Neil (Etuhu, 80), Lewis (Broomes, 89); Cresswell, Nugent (Agyemang, 86). Substitutes Not Used: Ward (gk), Mears.

Derby County (4-5-1): Camp; Kenna, Konjic, Johnson (Mills 6), Jackson; Reich, Bisgaard, Taylor, Huddlestone, Smith (Bolder 45); Peschisolido. Substitutes Not Used: Miller (gk), Junior, Tudgay.

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).

Booked: Preston Davis, McKenna; Derby: Konjic.

Man of the match: Cresswell

Attendance: 20,315.

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