Crystal Palace 0 Preston North End 2: Taylor left to regret piling on the praise for Palace

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The Independent Online

Peter Taylor is not one of life's more gleeful souls. So, with the score 0-0 when Palace went into the dressing room at half-time, having not had a shot on target, and found their manager telling them they had "played brilliant", they must have been a bit confused.

Palace went out for the second half with a "job's done" attitude and got booed off the field at the end. Taylor resumed normal service, face traffic-warden grim and griping about those few fans in a sparse crowd who had made their feelings felt.

"They don't realise that sometimes you work harder when you lose than when you win," he said. "But it was my fault because I've always been told never to over-praise your players at half-time."

Taylor did not have a good week. He relinquished his position as the England Under-21 coach, which was a job he clearly enjoyed, and could have done without coming face to face with one of his international protégés, David Nugent, in the very next game.

Nugent is a considerable talent, and one that Taylor would have told his defenders to watch particularly carefully. As it was, they all but gave him a welcoming handshake as he came from the halfway line and dribbled past them only a couple of minutes after Taylor had given his side that half-time pat on the back. Nugent finished with a clever shot inside the far post.

Paul Simpson, the Preston manager, confessed his surprise that more Premiership clubs had not made offers for Nugent. "We've just got to hope it stays that way," he said.

Once Nugent had got the goal, all of Palace's hard but unfinished first-half work was forgotten. Preston took advantage when Taylor pushed midfield players forward and left large gaps through which the visitors could counter-attack. This they did, forcing a corner from which Kelvin Wilson fired home to make the game safe.

Goals: Nugent (46) 0-1; Wilson (83) 0-2.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Flinders; Butterfield (Freedman, 68), Hudson, Ward, Lawrence; Green (Ifill, 56), Fletcher, Kennedy, McAnuff; Scowcroft (Kuqi, 67), Morrison. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Cort.

Preston North End (4-4-2): Lonergan; Alexander, Wilson, Chilvers, Hill; Sedgwick (Whaley, 71), Pugh, McKenna, Neal; Nugent (Mellor, 87) Ricketts (Ormerod, 79). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), St Ledger.

Referee: L Probert (Gloucestershire).

Booked: Preston Pugh.

Man of the match: Nugent.

Attendance: 8,422.

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