PRINGLE’S CLASS GIVES PRE­STON THEIR CHIPS

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

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.”

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