Sheffield Wed 1 Preston North End 3: Nugent stays to lift Preston

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The Independent Football

Despite interest from several Premiership clubs, Preston managed to hang on to their prized striker David Nugent during the transfer window and reaped the immediate benefit yesterday when he scored twice to lift North End into Championship's second automatic promotion place.

"I'm delighted with him," Paul Simpson, the Preston manager, said. "We know he's here with us until the end of the season. The speculation has affected him in a positive way."

The match started at a frantic pace and Preston fell behind after four minutes when Deon Burton reacted quickly to a knockdown and beat Andy Lonergan from 20 yards. The lead lasted barely a minute. Nugent made ground on the left, crossed, and this time Brett Ormerod was first to a knockdown to equalise.

Nugent scored with a shot from 12 yards out at the end of the first half to put Preston ahead, and he made the game safe 10 minutes into the second half. Ormerod turned supplier, crossing the ball from the left wing to find Nugent, who finished crisply with a close-range shot for his 13th goal of the season.

"We have had a result today where we haven't played that well," Simpson said. "We have had to scrap and work for the result but that's all that teams at this stage of the season can do. We have got ourselves in a position to challenge and I think it's going to go right to the end of the season."

The Owls manager, Brian Laws, was disappointed with his side's defending. "All three goals were down to Sheffield Wednesday. I would absolutely die for a clean sheet, even if it's an ugly performance."