Preston boss Ryan Lowe praised his side for dealing with their injury setbacks in their 1-0 win at his former club Plymouth.

Liam Millar, who came on for the injured Milutin Osmajic after only seven minutes, volleyed home the decisive goal in the 43rd minute, while Layton Stewart, on in place of Brad Potts, went close to a second when he smashed a shot against a post.

Lowe said: “I thought the lads were fantastic from start to finish.

“Losing Emil (Riis Jakobsen) this morning to a sickness bug and then to lose two important players in the first 20 minutes, you are thinking, ‘OK’.

“But I thought the two lads who came on equipped themselves fantastically well and were excellent from back to front. I thought they were brilliant.

“We brought Liam on because we thought he would get in behind them.

“You have to adapt these things and that’s what we did. I am full of faith and belief in the boys that are on the pitch.

“(It’s a) perfect way to go into the international break and a week off.

“Three straight away wins and three clean sheets, that’s not a bad way to go into the international break.

“We want an exciting end to the campaign. I have to keep a level head on it as the manager, but the fans can get excited.

“The fans were brilliant today, excellent, all of them. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

“We should have scored more goals and Layton was so unlucky because he did everything right with his shot that came back off the post.”

“Argyle are fighting for points and I wish them well from now on in because the club has a special place in my heart.

“The fans need to be patient and believe in the process and get behind the coach. Everyone needs to stick together.”

The defeat was Plymouth’s fourth home loss in a row and left them just two points above the bottom three.

Head coach Ian Foster said: “It is disappointing because we desperately want to win games of football and we desperately want to win games here at Home Park.

“I felt we were quite unfortunate to be behind at half-time.

“The players gave everything. We fought until the very end.

“We fancied ourselves in the second period, fine margins, but it’s the way things are going for us.

“It’s a similar situation to last week when we got into good positions and didn’t take our chances. We have got to turn chances into goals.

“It does hurt when we don’t win. We have an appreciation of how important points are at the moment.

“The break now might do us a little bit of good, with recharging the batteries.

“I am quite conscious some of the players need a break and the most important thing is they get a breather now.

“But we are desperate to get back to winning ways when we come back.”

Ryan Lowe’s Preston reignited their play-off hopes with a 1-0 win at his former club Plymouth.

Substitute Liam Millar scored the decisive goal in the 43rd minute after a sweeping move down the left.

The victory lifted North End up to ninth, five points off sixth-placed Norwich with a game in hand, and condemned Ian Foster’s struggling Argyle to a fourth successive home defeat.

The hosts started well, with Ryan Hardie firing wide after latching on to a superb through-ball down the left by Mickel Miller.

Preston boss Lowe was forced to shuffle his line-up early on as Milutin Osmajic was forced off injured after only seven minutes, Millar coming on.

The visitors also lost Brad Potts in the 19th minute, with Layton Stewart taking his place.

But the two changes did little to disrupt Preston’s intent and they forced the pace of the game for much of the first half

Millar should have scored in the 20th minute when he latched on to a pass along the edge of the box by Mads Frokjaer-Jensen and raced into the area, chesting the ball down but then firing wide with only goalkeeper Michael Cooper to beat from close range.

But he made no mistake shortly before half-time as Liam Lindsay’s deep cross was flicked on by Will Keane and Millar at the far post smashed a volley back across goal and into the corner.

Argyle’s best chances came late in the half as they forced a succession of corners, with North End keeper Freddie Woodman at full stretch to tip away Adam Randell’s inswinging set-piece before Mustapha Bundu’s header from another ball in flew high and wide.

Millar forced a good diving save from Cooper in the 52nd minute as Preston began the second half on the front foot.

Cooper made an even better stop to keep out Jordan Storey’s far-post header from a 59th-minute corner.

Argyle’s top-scorer Morgan Whittaker then swept his shot wide when well-placed in the box.

Keane’s long throw from the left was then gathered 20 yards from goal by an unmarked Stewart, who let fly with a fierce, dipping shot which beat Cooper but smashed off the foot of a post.

Adam Randell went close for Plymouth with a 20-yard strike, but the hosts could not find a leveller.

Preston manager Ryan Lowe believes the anniversary of Sir Tom Finney’s death inspired his side to their 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough.

The club marked the 10th anniversary of the death of the Preston and England great by sporting special edition kits in honour of the famous number seven.

An ovation in the seventh minute seemed to rouse the Lilywhites and goals from Liam Millar and Emil Riis took them to the brink of the play-offs.

“It did give us extra motivation,” said Lowe. “We wanted to have a bit of a celebration because I think that’s what it was, we wanted to show the family and our fans what we can do.

“It was important that we got a win on the back of that because there can be too much pressure on it.

“I’ve obviously got to be mindful of the fact that we have a game to play and try and win and it was a great occasion.

“We kept it simple, we knew what we were here to do, we respected the occasion and I think we’ve sent the Finney family and all of our fans home happy.”

The Lilywhites went in front in the 23rd minute when Millar brought down Matt Clarke’s attempted clearance with his right foot and fired a left-footed shot past Tom Glover from just outside the box.

Boro continued to push for a leveller and it arrived through Finn Azaz in the 57th minute, opening his account for the club with a rocket of a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.

Boro soon found themselves behind again, though, with Riis tapping home on the hour-mark – his sixth goal in as many games for Preston against Boro – after Will Keane’s shot deflected and fell kindly to him.

It earned Lowe’s side their third league win in a row and they are outside of the top six only on goal difference.

“The lads are dead on their feet, they’ve worked their socks off,” said Lowe. “Their resilience, wow, it’s massively pleasing.

“Sometimes you can’t help but drop the way we dropped and soak it up. We gave the ball away a couple of times, or more than a couple of times, to let them have penetration on us and we need to nullify it and stop it.

“But then for us to show that resilience and character and desire to get right back into the game right afterwards (after the equaliser) was massively pleasing.”

Boro, meanwhile, are without a win in four Championship games and have slipped seven points adrift of the play-off places.

“I think it’s a tough result to take for sure,” said manager Michael Carrick. “I think the results definitely aren’t going our way. I thought tonight we definitely deserved an awful lot more from the game.

“But we’re not getting it, so we need to accept that and we’ve got to do something about it.

“I can’t fault the boys in terms of effort. Some of the quality of the play was really, really good, but we’ve definitely not got the balance between performance and results at the moment.

“They hadn’t had a touch in our box and we were 1-0 down today. That was the only time they’d gone up there.

“It’s happened probably two or three times over the last six weeks or so. With that, there’s a lot of good things.

“There’s a lot of good things in the game, but those moments are going against us and we have to accept that and we’ve got to do something about it.”

Preston moved to within goal difference of the Sky Bet Championship play-offs after beating Middlesbrough 2-1 to claim a third consecutive win.

Emil Riis scored the winner in the 60th minute after Finn Azaz’s superb strike cancelled out Liam Millar’s first-half opener.

The victory secures a vital three points for Preston on a night when the club marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Sir Tom Finney with a rousing seventh-minute applause.

The visitors started well and nearly took the lead in the 11th minute, when Sam Greenwood’s deflected shot forced a good save out of Freddie Woodman after an interception from defender Greg Cunningham – an early substitute for the injured Andrew Hughes – fell into his path.

The pressure kept on building thereafter and it was completely against the run of play that the Lilywhites, sporting a special edition kit in memory of Finney, went in front in the 23rd minute.

Millar brought down Matt Clarke’s attempted clearance with his right foot and fired a left-footed shot past Tom Glover from just outside the box.

Leeds loanee Greenwood came close to equalising just beyond the half-hour mark, but his well-struck effort from distance went narrowly wide.

Shortly after the half-time interval, January signing Azaz’s attempt deflected wide as Boro continued to push for the leveller.

And it arrived through the same player in the 57th minute, opening his account for the club with a rocket of a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.

Boro soon found themselves behind again, though, with Riis tapping home on the hour-mark – his sixth goal in as many games for Preston against Boro – after Will Keane’s shot fell very kindly to him.

Michael Carrick’s side did not let their heads drop and came close to equalising once more moments later, with captain Jonny Howson’s attempt only being directed off target by a defensive header.

Woodman had to be alert again in the 70th minute to keep out Marcus Forss’ volley from close range.

Luke Thomas worked space for a shot inside the final 10 minutes, but the Leicester loanee dragged his attempt past the post and that proved to be their last real opportunity.

Preston are now in ninth place on 48 points – level with sixth-placed Coventry, seventh-placed Norwich and eighth-placed Hull – while Boro are seven points back.

Preston turned the form book on its head as they edged out high-flying 10-man Leeds 2-1 at Deepdale.

Liam Millar was the North End hero, firing home brilliantly into the top corner to win a dramatic game in the 89th minute.

Leeds blew their chance to close the gap on the Championship’s top two after keeper Illan Meslier inexplicably earned himself a straight red card early in the second half.

With a full house watching on, the Roses battle atmosphere was white hot as the two teams got under way for the early kick-off.

The first opportunity went Leeds’ way. Djed Spence made a purposeful break down the left and crossed in for Joel Piroe, but his strike was blocked.

There was an even better block at the other end soon after when Glen Kamara expertly got in the way of Ben Whiteman’s shot.

Given Preston boss Ryan Lowe’s much-publicised backing from the club hierarchy during the week, there was certainly no hint of pressure early on as the stuttering hosts – and their fans – were giving it everything.

Canadian winger Millar whipped in a terrific cross, but skipper Alan Browne missed it by inches.

Millar then fluffed a great chance when, after being found in acres of space by Brad Potts, he blazed woefully over the top from 18 yards.

Millar went much closer in the 34th minute, with a brilliant curling effort from an angle forcing Meslier to produce a super save to keep the scores level.

Leeds’ cause was seriously hindered just eight minutes after the restart when a total loss of discipline cost Meslier dearly.

After initially clashing with Whiteman following a comfortably-taken cross from the right, the Leeds keeper then pushed striker Milutin Osmajic in the face after he had intervened and left referee Josh Smith reaching straight to his top pocket for the red card.

Just two minutes later, and with sub keeper Karl Darlow now having replaced Piroe, Leeds fell behind.
Browne found space in the box as he headed home Millar’s pinpoint cross.

Preston, clearly buoyed and now with a goal and a man advantage, fluffed a decent chance to make it two at the three-quarter point of the game when Browne this time smashed wastefully over the top from the edge of the box.

Georginio Rutter went close for the 10 men, before parity was restored, somewhat against the run of play, in the 83rd minute.

Dan James jinked into the box before being tripped by McCann, leaving skipper Pascal Struijk to slot home from the spot to make it 1-1.

However, that was not enough to earn Leeds a point as Millar darted into the visitors’ box before curling home sweetly to seal the deal just before the game headed into added time.

Swansea manager Alan Sheehan urged his players to take confidence from a first home win since October as they edged a late 2-1 Championship victory at home to Preston.

Jamie Paterson completed his brace in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage-time to end Swansea’s run of seven home games without a win and deny North End a valuable away point after Liam Millar cancelled out Paterson’s opener.

As a result, Swansea – who have yet to appoint a permanent successor to Michael Duff – climbed four places to 15th in the table, while interim manager Sheehan has now taken seven points from five games in charge.

“We’re delighted with the win. We haven’t been good enough at home or got enough points but after the playing well and losing against Middlesbrough last time out, tonight was just about doing enough to win the game,” said Sheehan.

“We weren’t fluent with our performance by any stretch. We tried to play it through, looking for the perfect goal but it broke down each time.

“Preston are physical and try to ram it down your throat which we have to deal with. They came to make it hard for us and sometimes you’ve just got to grind it out and two moments of absolute quality from Jamie Paterson won us the game.

“We need to build confidence, resilience and a desire to win from this. When you win and have things to work on then that’s good. It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done and took a valuable three points.”

Preston continued their dramatic slide in form and slipped to ninth, with just one win from their last seven games.

They at least looked to have taken a point from their travels after substitute Millar cancelled out Paterson’s opener with a well-taken curling effort.

However Alistair McCann gave away possession inside his own half to gift Paterson the late winner.

Preston manager Ryan Lowe said: “I’m disappointed and gutted that we just couldn’t see it through to get what would have been a good point.

“I thought we were well worthy of the draw. It was a battling performance, nothing amazing and we dug in.

“We knew Swansea would dominate possession because that’s what they do but we handled their pressure well for long periods but individual errors have cost us.

“We played sideways instead of forwards for the second and left the man unmarked in the box for the first.

“It was disappointing because we had got ourselves right back in the game with a great goal and I felt we were in the ascendency.

“The players have character and effort but there were two lapses of concentration for the goals.

“I have to take responsibility as the manager, I know that and I have to lift myself first because I feel that I’m letting people down and I don’t like doing that.

“We could do with a bit of luck and to get that we need to keep working hard and digging in.”

Jamie Paterson scored an injury-time winner to hand Swansea their first home win in eight games and deny Preston a valuable away point following a narrow 2-1 Championship result.

Neither side could have complained with sharing a draw as a game of little inspiration ticked into added time at Stadium.

Liam Millar had earlier cancelled out Paterson’s first effort before with two brief glimpses of class.

However Alistair McCann gave away possession inside his own half and Swansea at last found a clinical edge as Jay Fulton released Paterson, who struck the winner in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage-time.

Swansea climbed four places to 15th in the table as a result, while Preston continued their dramatic slide in form and slipped to ninth.

Alan Sheehan had been told he would be in charge of Swansea over the Christmas period as the club continues to search for a long-term replacement for Michael Duff.

However the interim manager had urged for clarity over the vacancy, having taken four points from his previous three games in charge.

Sheehan named the same starting XI beaten by Middlesbrough, while Preston counterpart Ryan Lowe made six changes to the side thrashed 5-1 by Watford last time out.

That included a first league start for former Swansea goalkeeper Dai Cornell, who spent six years with his hometown club without playing in the league.

Cornell was first to be pressed into a save when he denied Jamal Lowe from close range following Josh Key’s smart cut back from the right.

Preston, with just one win in six, were limited to a long-range effort from Robbie Brady though should have done better with Duane Holmes’ counter-attack, if not for Alan Browne’s heavy touch.

Harry Darling went close to finishing a sweeping team attack but Swansea’s frustration grew amid the stalemate with Matt Grimes, Lowe, Ben Cabango and Paterson all booked in the space of eight minutes.

Preston’s cause was not helped by losing Brady to injury before half-time, replaced by Millar, though Ched Evans brought a decent save from Carl Rushworth early in the second half.

But it was Swansea who scored first when Grimes found Paterson free on the edge of the box and the striker swept his right-footed shot beyond Cornell.

That prompted a swift response from Preston, who levelled the scores just six minutes later.

Evans attacked deep on the right before Millar gathered the ball on the left, steadied himself and stepped inside Darling to curl his effort beyond Rushworth.

Millar came close to an almost carbon copy second just moments later but this time the Swansea goalkeeper tipped the shot past the post.

Swansea defender Cabango missed a free header in front of goal from a free-kick and the game looked destined for a draw before Paterson struck again in added time to clinch maximum points.

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