BY OLIVER GODDEN
Millwall closed the gap on the Championship play-offs with a gritty win away at promotion hopefuls Preston North End in swirling Lancashire rain.
The goal in the 79th minute came from Shaun Hutchinson, the centre back nodding in Murray Wallace’s knock down from a corner to send the away support behind the goal into raptures as the game appeared to be heading to a stalemate.
The first 20 minutes were nervy for the unchanged Lions, who looked compact off the ball in their familiar 5-2-3 formation but were subject to growing Preston momentum.
The visitors grew into the game, though. On the 30 minute mark, Tom Bradshaw stumbled through challenges in the box and managed to get a shot away from seven yards but a sprawling Declan Rudd managed to save one of few Millwall chances.
The rain had started lashing down by the time the second half started, but the football looked brighter, both sides moving the ball with more urgency and the game opened up.
Bradshaw missed a golden opportunity to put Millwall ahead in the 63rd minute. A mistake by Ben Davies left the forward through on goal on the angle, but the marksman’s right-footed shot hammered the top of the crossbar.
It mattered little to Rowett’s men 15 minute later though when Hutchinson’s turned in his fifth goal of the campaign.
Bart Bialkowski produced a good save low down to his left from a 30-yard free kick in the dying embers to keep a clean sheet for Millwall and take three points back to South London.
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