HOLDEN HIT BY PROLIFIC NORTH END
Dean is humbled in Latics dugout
LIFE after Lee Johnson got off to the worst possible start for Oldham, with caretaker boss Dean Holden admitting his management dream turned into a nightmare.
Paul Huntington scored just 72 seconds in and Daniel Johnson, Joe Garner and Jermaine Beckford also netted.
After a week which saw Johnson depart for Barnsley, with Paul Scholes touted as a possible contender for the manager’s job, it was left to Holden to lead the injury-depleted Latics.
But the caretaker boss cut a forlorn figure post-match and could not hide his disappointment at how his managerial debut played out.
“It was a baptism of fire,” he said. “I’m absolutely gutted at this point. I hate losing games, like all the lads do.
“I was absolutely buzzing to be in charge and I couldn’t have done any more preparation, but unfortunately it was a bad day all round.
“The early goal gave that feeling of ‘ here we go again’, and that’s what we need to sort out – that mentality. There has to be a response.
“Did we believe we were going to get something from the game? Looking at it, probably not.
“There were bad decisions being made in the second half and you can’t press pause and go on and fix it. They were not mistakes as such, but poor decisions being made.
“That’s what I have to get to the bottom of if I’m manager or first-team coach. My job will be the same.”
Huntington rose highest to power a header into the top corner from Paul Gallagher’s corner to get Holden’s reign off to the worst possible start.
Chris Humphrey nearly added a second on 14 minutes, unleashing a dipping shot from seemingly nothing which cannoned clear off the crossbar.
Johnson did double the lead on 32 minutes though, with a fierce strike high into the middle of the net after evading Timothee Dieng’s attempted tackle. Oldham struggled to create chances at the other end, but it took a well-timed sliding block from Bailey Wright on 39 minutes to stop Daniel Philliskirk turning Dominic Poleon’s cross in from close range.
Callum Robinson then teed up Garner for the third on 52 minutes, with the striker ghosting in completely unmarked to deflect the ball in from close-range.
Preston continued to ask questions of the Latics’ defence, with Robinson’s low shot on the hour being pushed clear by Jake Kean.
Robinson was a constant menace in the second half and he danced inside again on 80 minutes, only for Kean to parry clear once more.
Two minutes later Preston had a fourth though, substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake beating Kean to a loose ball and squaring for Beckford to side-foot in.
It meant a fifth straight league win – and clean sheet – for the visitors, and boss Simon Grayson believes the scoreline and the performance showcased the visitors’ desire.
“It was a fantastic all-round per- formance against a team who are up there in the table,” he said.
“We have been saying for a while that sort of performance was coming.
“We have been playing well and creating chances so we thought there might be a game where we scored a few.
“The early goal was a bonus. It calmed everybody down against a team with a new manager in charge and we built from that.
“Even in the last five minutes, though, we were closing down and keeping our discipline. The players wanted that clean sheet and it’s our fifth on the trot.
“The pitch was difficult but we handled that well and the clean sheet shows the desire of all the players.
“We defended as a team and were professional. When Oldham couldn’t pick a way through we were looking to hit them on the break.
“It’s a testament to their desire that we’ve won five on the trot.”
BECK IN BUSINESS: Preston’s Jermaine Beckford celebrates after netting his side’s fourth
JOE JOY: Joe Garner scores Preston’s third goal on an easy day for the visitors
STAR MAN JOHN WELSH