GARNER GRABS A LILYWHITES FOUR-TUNE
PRESTON manager Simon Grayson says he knew a big win was coming after Joe Garner’s four goals helped promotion-chasing Preston to a resounding win over struggling Crewe.
Garner struck twice in each half and Jermaine Beckford added a fifth while Oliver Turton struck in vain for the visitors.
Victory stretched Preston’s unbeaten run to eight games, winning seven of those and puts them two points clear of third-placed Swindon with a game in hand.
Crewe have now won just one of their last six and are four places above the relegation zone with the worst goal difference in the division.
Grayson says a thrashing like that has been coming from his side and singled out match-winner Garner.
“We did feel that over the last few weeks things have been coming together and at some point we would have taken teams to the sword,” Grayson said.
“We’re delighted with the performance and the number of goals we’ve scored.
“We stressed to the players before the game that you can’t take anything for granted and we had to start with a tempo which really got us going – 15 minutes in both halves won us the game I think.
“I said that Joe has been looking sharper in recent weeks and he’s admitted it as well. He’s a handful for any defender.
“His third goal was something special, however. I was right behind it and we needed it to feel comfortable – after that we showed what we could do.”
Preston’s early pressure told in the 11th minute when Garner fired them in front with his low right-footed shot from the edge of the area.
Garner doubled Preston’s lead after 24 minutes as he directed Paul Gallagher’s cross back across goal and past Paul Rachubka at the far post.
However, against the run of play, Crewe pulled one back after 34 minutes through Turton, who slotted in from 15 yards.
Garner completed his hat-trick after 72 minutes as he curled the ball right-footed into the far corner from 15 yards and struck again seven minutes later, tapping home after Beckford’s strike came back off the post.
And Beckford made it five in the 82nd minute, slotting under Rachubka.
Crewe manager Steve Davis was disappointed they had a goal ruled out at 2-1 but admits his side must do better away from home.
“With the crowd and the players at home the referee didn’t fancy it and bottled it a little bit,” Davis said.
“Those decisions are important and need to go for you in front of a partisan crowd like this.
“The first 15-20 minutes of the second half we had one or two chances and had the ball in the net which was unfortunate it was disallowed. I think that was a game-changing moment.
“For 70 minutes we played reasonably well. The third goal was a killer.
“We didn’t capitulate but we found it difficult to hold them. We made basic mistakes. The third and fifth goals are too easy for my liking.
“Away from home we have a problem.”
PRESTON: (4-3-3): Johnstone 7, Clarke 7, Huntington 6, Wright 6, Laird 5, Welsh 6 (Kilkenny 76 6), Gallagher 8, Johnson 7, Beckford 7 (Ebanks-Blake 82 6), Robinson 6 (Humphrey 69 6), Garner 9 Subs not used: Stuckmann, Woods, Little, Davies
CREWE: (4-1-2-1-2): Rachubka 7, Turton 7, Davis 7, Ray 6, Guthrie 6, Jones 5 (Atkinson 74 5), Grant 6, Tate 5 (Cooper 65 6), Ness 5, Ajose 5 (Ikpeazu 65 6), Haber 4
Subs not used: Dalla Valle, Nolan, Baillie, Stewart STAR MAN JOE
Preston FOURSOME: Joe Garner scores the second of his four goals for Preston