Last minute drama ensures key victories for local sides

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Preston have taken a huge stride towards safety with two victories in their last two league games. These results put North End eight points from safety, but with other sides in free-fall there is a renewed hope at Deepdale that the great escape is possible. Their first win was a 3-0 mauling of Scunthorpe at Glanford Park, with Keith Treacy opening the scoring and two further strikes putting Preston into a 3-0 half-time lead. They could have inflicted further damage in the second half, although Phil Brown will have been pleased with a clean-sheet. In their most recent fixture, Preston defeated Coventry 2-1 at Deepdale. Nathan Ellington was the hero, with a 94th minute winner after coming off the bench.

Wigan also benefitted from a last minute strike, with Maynor Figueroa netting a 92nd minute winner in their crucial six-pointer against Birmingham to give his side a 2-1 victory. With the clock ticking down, it looked as though Tom Cleverley’s first-half goal had rescued a point for the Latics after Liam Ridgewell had given Birmingham the lead. However, Wigan had looked the more likely to score and so it proved as Figueroa smashed home from 20 yards to put Wigan just 2 points behind 17th placed West Ham.

While other clubs in the region took advantage of late strikes to ensure valuable wins, Blackpool were pegged back by a battling Blackburn side thanks to a 92nd minute from David Hoilett. The Tangerines looked to have secured a much needed victory thanks to a brace from the inspirational Charlie Adam. However, Blackburn staged a fighback in their typical style to draw level with seconds remaining. The result puts Blackpool into a respectable 15thposition in the Premier League, although any thoughts of planning for next season must wait until survival is ensured, with the gap to 18th place just one point.

Unlike their more illustrious neighbours, Morecambe, Lancaster and Fleetwood are looking up the table rather than over their shoulders. Lancaster sit ninth, having occupied a similar position for much of the season. The Dolly Blues have taken six points from the last four games , including a 2-1 victory over high-flying Chester, in front of a sizeable crowd of 712.

Morecambe find themselves a comfortable nine points clear of the relegation zone in League Two. Although results have been mixed all season, Sammy McIlroy’s men have a knack of picking up victories when needed. Their recent 2-1 win at Barnet is a prime example of the resilience that should see them record a mid-table finish in their first season at the Globe Arena. However, their inconsistency resurfaced last Tuesday when they were defeated 2-1 by Macclesfield. The Shrimps had no answer the pace and power of a resurgent Macclesfield side, with just a James Spencer consolation to show for their efforts.

Finally, Fleetwood continue to chase a play-off place in their first season in the highest tier of non-league football. The Cod Army remain well in the mix, with a mere two point gap between themselves and Kidderminster; with the sides due to meet before the season ends. Their latest game saw a 1-0 victory over Wrexham, thanks to a Sean Clancy strike. This came after a narrow 2-1 defeat to the Crawley Town juggernaut.

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