Super Johnnie seals the points

Colchester United 2 Preston North End 1JOHNNIE Jackson fired home a dramatic late winner to propel Colchester United off the bottom of the Championship table, at the expense of 10-man Preston in a nerve-jangling relegation showdown.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 2 Preston North End 1

JOHNNIE Jackson fired home a dramatic late winner to propel Colchester United off the bottom of the Championship table, at the expense of 10-man Preston in a nerve-jangling relegation showdown.

For the first three-quarters of last night's game, it was a dull affair devoid of excitement. But that all changed when the U's were awarded a 68th minute penalty, with referee Paul Taylor sending off visiting defender Sean St Ledger to boot.


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St Ledger hauled down Karl Duguid inside the box, and was therefore dismissed for a professional foul. Up stepped substitute Scott Vernon to calmly convert the spot kick, beating Andy Lonergan with a crisp finish even though the Lilywhites keeper had guessed the right way.

Any hopes that the U's would hold out for a 1-0 win, and so keep only their second clean-sheet of the season, were well and truly quashed when Preston substitute Neil Mellor rifled a shot past keeper Dean Gerken from a narrow angle for an 81st minute equaliser.

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However, Geraint Williams' men refused to give up on a rare home win, and they duly achieved that feat when Jackson smashed home a glorious right-footed volley from just inside the penalty area, with 88 minutes on the clock.

That goal could prove so vital at the end of the season. For the moment, Jackson's stunning finish chalked up only the U's third win in their last 21 games, and only their sixth victory of the season.

It also cut the gap between themselves and Preston to just two points - the U's also have a game in hand.

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