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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Preston play-off woe
Preston's Mark Rankine
Scorer Rankine came on as a second-half substitute
Preston 2-1 Nottingham Forest

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Preston's bid to secure a place in the Division One play-offs for the second successive season ended in failure despite a hard-fought last-day victory at home to Nottingham Forest.

North End went into the game knowing victory would allow them to sneak into sixth place in the table - but only if Burnley lost at home to Coventry and Norwich lost at home to Stockport.

Neither result went Preston's way, but late goals from Mark Rankine and Richard Cresswell salvaged some pride after Marlon Harewood had fired Forest into a 30th-minute lead.

The home side made the brighter start and Clyde Wijnhard's header from a Paul McKenna cross forced an early save from Darren Ward.

The competitive edge between the sides resulted in bookings for Forest's Jon Olav Hjelde and Preston's Rob Edwards inside the first 15 minutes.

Double substitution

Forest signalled their intent to make a game of it as they pushed forward and Eugen Bopp unleashed a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area which Tepi Moilanen was forced to tip over the crossbar.

Then the visitors caught Preston on the break when Jack Lester squared the ball for Harewood, who coolly went round Moilanen and slotted home from close range.

Forest's leading scorer had a chance to double his side's lead in injury time, but he fired his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Preston came out with renewed purpose after the interval, but Wijnhard wasted a great chance from another McKenna cross when he headed wide after 62 minutes.

O'Hanlon made a double substitution 20 minutes into the second half in a last bid to get his side back in the game, bringing Rankine and David Healy on to replace Michael Keane and Wijnhard.

Healy came close to pulling the hosts level within five minutes, but his shot was comfortably caught by Ward.

But it was fellow substitute Rankine who got Preston's equaliser when he fired in from the centre of the penalty area after good work by Cresswell.

And it was the former Leicester striker who ensured that North End's season ended on a winning note when he popped up in the six-yard box to convert Healy's cross.

Preston: Moilanen, Alexander, Jackson, Gregan, Edwards, Ainsworth, McKenna, Etuhu, Keane, Wijnhard, Cresswell. Subs: Lucas, Anderson, Eaton, Healy, Rankine.

Nottm Forest: Ward, Louis-Jean, Scimeca, Hjelde, Brennan, Prutton, Lester, Williams, Bopp, Harewood, Reid. Subs: Gray, Roche, Westcarr, Kevin Dawson, Jones.

Referee: M Brandwood (Lichfield).

BBC Sport's Alan Biggs
"North End did their bit - a good effort"
Links to more Eng Div 1 stories are at the foot of the page.


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