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The Den (ATT 11,417) 24th April 2005 - Kick off 13:30 Ref: P Joslin

Millwall Millwall vs Preston North End Preston

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Lions beat play-off hopefuls

By Simon Fudge.   Last Updated: 24/04/05 3:41pm

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Millwall denied Preston North End the chance to secure a play-off place with a 2-1 victory at The New Den.

Goals from Peter Sweeney and Barry Hayles gave Dennis Wise's side all three points on Sunday afternoon, despite David Nugent scoring a fine second half equaliser.

It was Preston that started the brightest, with Patrick Agyemang heading Paul McKenna's free kick from the right wide of goal.

The Lions soon replied, but Danny Dichio nodded David Livermore's cross from the left well wide of Carlo Nash's goal.

Yet, Millwall made the breakthrough after nine minutes when Dichio allowed Jody Morris's cross from the left to go over his head and Sweeney swept in to convert his chance from 10 yards.

Despite the delight of taking the lead against The Lilywhites, Millwall were forced into a goalkeeping change just after the quarter hour mark when Andy Marshall was stretchered off with what looked like a serious neck injury following a collision with Richard Cresswell.

Graham Stack came on to replace Marshall in the Millwall goal, as the Lions number one needed to be put in a neck brace and taken to hospital with his injury, as seven minutes of injury time needed to be added at the end of the first 45.

Before the break, the home side should have increased their lead when Hayles dispossessed Nash in the Preston box after the keeper fumbled Chris Lucketti's headed back pass.

The former Fulham striker then eluded Nash and Youl Mawene, but he delayed too long with his close range shot and Nash recovered to make a fine save.

Matthew Hill then went close with a curling strike for Preston while Dichio missed the target with a header, as Millwall took the lead into half time.

The second half saw Paul Ifill replace Sweeney at the restart after the goalscorer pulled up with a hamstring problem.

Both sides traded chances until just before the hour mark, as Preston equalised through the in-form Nugent.

Hill's ball forward was flicked on by Cresswell to the former Bury striker and his sublime right foot volley flew past Stack to make it 1-1.

The play-off contenders had their tails up and captain Lucketti had his byline cross from the right blocked by the arm of substitute Dennis Wise, but referee Phil Joslin waved away Preston's appeals.

That decision proved decisive, as The Lions went on to claim a winner with 14 minutes left.

Hayles took Ifill's low cross from the left and played a give and go with Dichio before striking a right foot shot that eluded Nash to make it 2-1.

With Preston looking to get something from their trip to South East London, Cresswell missed a major chance to restore parity when his right foot strike failed to find the target in the dying stages.

The result means Billy Davies's side must look to secure post-season football with results in their final two matches of the season.

Matches

Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bournemouth 39 73
2 Watford 39 72
3 Middlesbrough 39 72
4 Norwich City 39 70
5 Derby County 39 67
6 Ipswich Town 39 67
7 Brentford 39 66
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 39 65
9 Nottingham Forest 39 57
10 Blackburn Rovers 39 54
11 Charlton Athletic 39 54
12 Sheffield Wednesday 39 53
13 Leeds United 39 52
14 Cardiff City 39 51
15 Birmingham City 38 47
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 39 45
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 45
18 Huddersfield Town 39 44
19 Reading 38 44
20 Fulham 39 43
21 Rotherham United 39 40
22 Wigan Athletic 39 35
23 Millwall 39 33
24 Blackpool 39 23

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