The battle of two new Championship managers, the former Manchester City colleagues Mick McCarthy and Paul Simpson, turned into a duel between Jay Bothroyd and David Nugent which the 21-year-old Preston striker won comprehensively last night.
Bothroyd had given Wolves visions of topping the table with a fine individual goal, only for Nugent to mark his selection for the England Under-21 squad against Moldova next Tuesday with two virtuoso efforts. Simon Whaley, with a solo goal in stoppage time, put the seal on Preston's first win under the former Molineux winger Simpson since he succeeded Billy Davies during the summer.
Simpson is adamant he can keep Nugent at Deepdale until the transfer window shuts on 31 August. "I'm very confident of holding on to David because the chairman's telling me we don't need to sell after the two big summer sales [Claude Davis and Ty Mears]," said the former Carlisle manager.
Wolves fielded two young strikers with experience in Italy's Serie A. Craig Davies, on a season-long loan from Verona, started in place of the suspended Carl Cort, though it was Bothroyd, once of Perugia, who put McCarthy's men in front.
A 14th-minute pass by Rohan Ricketts, his former youth team colleague at Arsenal, sent the 24-year-old Londoner racing down the right touchline. Having burnt off Liam Chilvers, he cut inside and jinked into the six-yard box, where he hit a left-footed shot that Carlo Nash could not stop by his near post.
The lead lasted just eight minutes. A corner kick by Danny Pugh was not dealt with by the Wolves goalkeeper, Matt Murray, allowing Sean St Ledger a swing at the ball. The centre-back fluffed the chance, but Nugent showed his ruthlessness by volleying Preston's first goal of the campaign.
The swagger drained from Wolves' play and they started to resemble what they are, a team in transition. Preston, with an all-new back four from the one that boasted the division's best defensive record last season, began to look the more cohesive unit.
Nugent rose above the mediocrity. In the 65th minute he seized upon the ball as Karl Henry stumbled, dipped his shoulder to the right and then, as Gary Breen bought the dummy, buried a low 15-yard shot through Jody Craddock's legs into the left corner of the net. The early promise epitomised by Bothroyd was a distant memory as Whaley pounced on Craddock's back-header and ran on to spear a low drive beyond Murray.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Murray; Clyde, Craddock, Breen, Naylor; Ricketts (Olofinjana, 54), Henry, O'Connor, Clapham; Bothroyd, C Davies (Clarke, 54). Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Edwards, Jones.
Preston North End (4-4-2): Nash; Wilson, St Ledger, Chilvers, Hill; Whaley, Jarrett, McKenna, Pugh; Dichio (Sedgwick, 73), Nugent (Agyemang, 88). Substitutes not used: Lonergan (gk), Stock, McCormack.
Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).Reuse content