Macken primes perky Preston

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The Independent Online

Last season, David Moyes, the Preston North End manager, was tipped for higher office at several Premiership clubs. If his side continue their present impressive form, he will be managing North End themselves in the top flight. A 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Deepdale lifted them to fourth, within four points of the second automatic promotion place.

Last season, David Moyes, the Preston North End manager, was tipped for higher office at several Premiership clubs. If his side continue their present impressive form, he will be managing North End themselves in the top flight. A 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Deepdale lifted them to fourth, within four points of the second automatic promotion place.

Despite the setback of a midweek Worthington Cup loss at Coventry, North End dominated and took the lead when their former Manchester United striker, Jon Macken, ran on to Steve Basham's 14th-minute pass to beat the goalkeeper Stuart Taylor for his sixth goal of the season.

A Macken shot hit a post in the second half but it was Paul McKenna who added Preston's second with a 30-yard drive. "It just sat up nicely for me and I smacked it," McKenna said. "The First Division suits me - you get more time on the ball."

It is a few seasons now since West Bromwich Albion looked like challenging for promotion but a 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at The Hawthorns lifted them into seventh place. They are unbeaten for seven league games and their prolific striker Lee Hughes wrapped up the points just before the hour with a powerful right-foot volley.

Seventh-placed Sheffield United were held to a 1-1 draw by Queen's Park Rangers at Bramall Lane. Shaun Murphy gave the Blades a first-half lead but Rangers' Surinamese striker Sam Koejoe equalised. Paul Devlin hit the Rangers bar and had a twice-taken penalty twice saved.

Barnsley's 100 per cent home record remained intact, Grimsby Town the latest visitors sent away empty handed after The Tykes' 2-0 win.

Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday continue to struggle. A 1-1 draw at Norwich City meant The Terriers stayed in the bottom three despite ending a run of four defeats. Gaetano Giallanza's equaliser for the Canaries was Norwich's first home goal of the season. Wednesday, with 17-year-old Chris Stringer in goal, were beaten 2-0 at promoted Gillingham. Relegated last May, the Owls are rock bottom.

Stockport County's 2-0 defeat at Wimbledon was their 11th match without a win, but good news for Crewe: Rob Hulse scored twice in their 3-1 win at Tranmere Rovers. The goals and points were their first of the season away from home. Paul Weller scored two minutes from time to earn a point for Burnley at home to Portsmouth in a 1-1 draw.

In the Second Division, Bristol Rovers, Worthington Cup conquerors of Everton, retained their unbeaten start to but were held to a 3-3 draw by Luton. The leaders, Walsall, thrashed Notts County 5-1 and Bury went second following their 2-0 win at Swansea. Mark McGhee's first League match in charge of Millwall finished with an impressive 4-1 win at Peterborough United.

Chesterfield went five points clear at the top of the Third Division when they beat Macclesfield 4-1 while Rochdale lost 1-0 at home to Southend. But Cardiff lost their unbeaten record when they lost 2-0 at Hull City. To add insult Cardiff scored all the goals, Daniel Gabbidon and David Greene putting through their own net. Greene was later sent off for violent conduct, beating his head against a goalpost, perhaps?

Finally, congratulations to Elgin City, who finally won a Scottish Third Division match when they beat Dumbarton 2-0, and to Rocky Baptiste of the Nationwide Conference side Hayes. He scored at hat-trick in four minutes in their 4-3 win at Northwich.

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