PRINGLE’S CLASS GIVES PRESTON THEIR CHIPS
MILLERS boss Steve Rotherham saluted Ben Pringle’s “Premier League quality” after the 24year-old’s inspirational display sent Rotherham to Wembley.
Trailing to a bizarre strike from Paul Gallagher, Rotherham were heading out of the play-offs until Pringle took matters into his own hands, crossing for Wes Thomas to head home an equaliser before another peach of a ball teed up Lee Frecklington.
The former Derby man then clattered the crossbar with a spectacular volley before Kieran Agard wrapped up a richlydeserved 3-1 victory.
“Some of the crossing from the boy Pringle was out of this world,” said Evans, who is seeking to restore Rotherham to the second tier for the first time since 2005.
“When some of the big Premier League managers read my quotes saying he’s got Premier League quality, they probably think I’m exaggerating. But when you see balls like that, it speaks for itself. It was a fantastic performance.”
Evans also lavished praise on top-scorer Agard, who made a miraculous recovery from a hamstring injury to terrorise Preston’s left-flank.
“When I left this stadium on Wednesday, Kieran was out,” he said. “So when I got a call from our physio at 11 o’clock Thursday morning saying ‘I’ve just put Kieran through his paces, he’s fit’, I nearly fell off my chair.
“When I came in he said ‘I’m ready to give you everything I’ve got’.That’s the spirit we’ve got in the club, but my medical staff also deserve huge credit.”
All that backslapping seemed a mile off when Preston took the lead, Gallagher’s free-kick – undoubtedly intended as a cross – evading everybody before bouncing into the top corner past a flat-footed Adam Collin.
Rotherham could have been level almost instantly, Kari Arnason rising to meet a beauty of a free-kick from Pringle that Declan Rudd only just tipped round the post.
Preston fans breathed again, but that was merely a shot across the bows. Minutes later, another Pringle delivery was again met by the head of Wes Thomas.This time, the striker didn’t give Rudd a hope, powering a header home.
By now, Pringle was running riot, his pace and delivery threatening to wreak havoc with each rapier thrust.
And when the winger was played into space just before the half-hour, the result was inevitable. Another majestic ball, another header, another goal, this time planted into the far corner by the onrushing Lee Frecklington.
Had Pringle’s volley gone in, it might have been a massacre, and it still seemed that way when Agard swept home following fine work from James Tavernier.
But Preston rallied and, while always vulnerable, can count themselves unfortunate not to have pulled at least one back. Joe Garner and Jack King both saw deflected long rangers hit the inside of a post, while the latter also volleyed over from close range.
Had either gone in, it would have been a nervy finale for the home side.
As it is, Rotherham got to Wembley while Preston contemplate a ninth straight play-off failure.
“I asked them to leave everything on the pitch and they did that,” said Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson.
“We tried everything but football is all about fine margins and things didn’t go our way today. It’s a hugely disappointed dressing room but we go again next year.”