Brilliant Robinson brace as Town beaten at Deepdale
Callum Robinson sent Preston on the way to victory with two terrific goals in the first-half as Town suffered the heaviest defeat of the season.
The striker, who was handed his debut in League football by Paul Lambert at Aston Villa, sent North End on the way with a vicious effort early on and then found the net again midway through the half with a superb volley.
Robinson turned architect for Preston’s third and fourth goals, Lukas Nmecha the grateful recipient on both occasions, while Kayden Jackson was close to a consolation for Town, hitting the underside of the bar.
Idris El Mizouni was handed his first start for Town, with fellow Academy graduate Flynn Downes returning to the starting line up as Blues included five homegrown players at kick-off.
Paul Gallagher saw a free-kick from 20 yards beaten out by the Town wall inside the first minute, the former Leicester wideman then setting up Sean Maguire, who tested Bart Bialkowski with a low drive.
Six minutes in Preston were ahead, Robinson spinning on the edge of the box after some neat interplay and burying his shot superbly in the corner.
Town responded, Alan Judge’s shot almost falling in Jackson’s path, then Myles Kenlock weaved his way into space but his cross beat everyone.
Toto Nsiala did well to divert Nmecha’s shot behind for a corner after the Preston striker got clear on goal, Maguire first to the flag kick to head against the post as North End looked to add to their advantage.
Downes fired over from 25 yards after incisive build up play involving Teddy Bishop and Judge, Bishop and El Mizouni then combining to cross for Jackson but Ben Davies cleared, Toto Nsiala’s header straight at Declan Rudd but seconds later, on 22 minutes, Preston struck again with Robinson volleying in superbly.
Luke Chambers had a header cleared off the line as Blues looked for a way back into the game, Bialkowski held firm from Nmecha’s powerful drive, Rudd following suit to deny Bishop.
Bishop showed a lovely touch to spin away from his marker, his left foot curler just wide of the far post before Bialkowski came to Town’s rescue with a brilliant double save right on half-time to first deny Robinson and then claw away Nmecha’s header from the rebound when a goal looked certain.
Bishop again took the game to Preston with a driving run, the ball falling into Downes’ path but his shot was deflected over and from Judge’s delivery Rudd was forced to palm Chambers’ header behind with the last touch of the half.
James Bree replaced Josh Emmanuel at the break in the game’s first change, the first chance of the second-half falling to Maguire who headed over at the near post.
North End didn’t have to wait long for their third, Robinson denied a hat-trick by Bialkowski but the ‘keeper couldn’t hold on to the shot and Nmecha converted from the rebound on 56 minutes.
Will Keane replaced El Mizouni on the hour, Town handed a chance to reduce the arrears when a mix up at the back gave Jackson a chance but his left footer cannoned back off the underside of the bar.
Keane had a shot blocked after Jackson set him up, Gallagher making way for Louis Moult in Preston’s first change but on 74 minutes Robinson turned provider again, his cross buried first time by Nmecha at the far post.
Trevoh Chalobah replaced Bishop in Town’s final change, Jayden Stockley denied a fifth for Preston by Bialkowski’s feet while the ever willing Judge persevered for Blues, forcing Rudd into a save in added on time but Blues were well beaten at the final whistle.
Preston: Rudd, Fisher, Davies, Robinson (Stockley 75), Johnson, Gallagher (Moult 70), Storey, Rafferty, Ledson, Maguire (Ginnelly 73), Nmecha. Subs not used: Crowe, Earl, Huntington, O’Reilly.
Town: Bialkowski, Emmanuel (Bree 46), Chambers, Nsiala, Kenlock, Skuse, Bishop (Chalobah 75), Downes, Judge, El Mizouni (Keane 59), Jackson. Subs not used: Gerken, Nolan, Dozzell, Ndaba. Booked: Kenlock.