Preston North End 1 Watford 0: Boothroyd stays calm amid slump

Preston substitute Neil Mellor stepped off the bench to fire Alan Irvine's Coca-Cola Championship strugglers to a potentially crucial win over high-flying Watford.

Former Liverpool striker Mellor had been on the pitch for just two minutes when he lashed home from close range to settle a close affair at Deepdale and end a three-game losing streak for the home side.

Adrian Boothroyd's side have the best away record in the whole division but were outplayed for the majority of the clash by Irvine's men before Mellor's 75th-minute finish which boosted the Lilywhites' hopes of avoiding relegation.

Irvine's side have a tough run of fixtures over the next six weeks - which sees them take on West Brom, Stoke twice and Watford again - but they showed enough commitment and organisation to suggest that they have enough to survive.

Marlon King took his place in the Watford side after the club turned down a £4million bid from Premier League strugglers Fulham this week, while Richard Chaplow and Chris Brown were both handed debuts by Irvine after their moves from West Brom and Norwich respectively.

King was subdued throughout and with reports of a fresh bid circulating his future is uncertain.

North End's left winger Lewis Neal had the first effort of the match but his ambitious strike from 35 yards sailed harmlessly over after a crisp passing move from the home side.

Neal was at the hub of everything about Preston's bright start and, after he did brilliantly to keep the ball in on the touchline, his low cross was dummied by Chaplow but Brown's effort was well blocked by Jay DeMerit.

Chaplow was then robbed by Jobi McAnuff 25 yards from goal and only a fingertip save from Andy Lonergan kept out his low drive before Watford defender Matt Jackson was lucky not to be sent off for cynically hauling down the rapid Karl Hawley after he had misjudged a long ball.

The former Wigan man was only booked by referee Scott Mathieson for the foul and Boothroyd's side almost rubbed salt into the wound by scoring instantly.

Tommy Smith's cross caused havoc in the Preston defence and Darius Henderson somehow found the ball at his feet just eight yards from goal.

He got a shot away but Lonergan reacted superbly to palm the ball away and deny Henderson his 11th goal of the season.

The second period struggled to get going as both sides squandered possession far too cheaply with Simon Whaley's blocked shot after a bright Sean St Ledger run the only highlight of the opening 15 minutes.

Another long-range drive from Neal forced a good save out of Richard Lee as the hosts controlled the majority of the play with Watford content to use the pace of King and McAnuff on the break.

Chaplow and Brown were both replaced as they felt the effects of a lack of first-team football and it was Brown's replacement Mellor who found the breakthrough.

Whaley's deep cross from the right was turned back into the danger zone by Neal.

Mellor hit his shot straight at Lee but, as the ball rebounded back to him, placed his second effort right into the top corner.

Watford sub John-Joe O'Toole then shot narrowly wide from 25 yards before Henderson headed straight at Lonergan.

Goal: Mellor (75) 1-0.

Preston North End (4-4-2): Lonergan; St Ledger, Mawene, Chilvers, Davidson; Whaley, Chaplow (Carter, 75), McKenna, L Neal; Brown (Mellor, 73), Hawley. Substitutes not used: C Neal (gk), Sedgwick, Ormerod.

Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Doyley, Jackson (Mariappa, 79), DeMerit, Stewart; Smith, Williamson, Francis (O'Toole, 76), McAnuff; King, Henderson. Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), Priskin, Ellington.

Referee: S Mathieson (Cheshire).

Booked: Preston North End Davidson, Whaley; Watford Jackson.

Man of the match: Neal.

Attendance: 12,347.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Furyon London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam