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Butland’s blunders cost Stoke dearly in defeat at Preston
The Potters remain bottom of the Sky Bet Championship table following a 3-1 loss.
Stoke paid the price for two mistakes by goalkeeper Jack Butland as dominant Preston secured their second Sky Bet Championship win of the season with a 3-1 victory over the division’s bottom side.
Nathan Jones’ Potters, who were second best throughout and are still looking for their first victory of the campaign, were booed off by their own supporters at Deepdale.
James McClean’s late strike proved merely a consolation after Josh Harrop had made the game safe with a goal 20 minutes from time.
Daniel Johnson and Billy Bodin had put the hosts 2-0 up before the break in an assured display from Preston.
The visitors were looking comfortable in the opening exchanges, but it was North End who struck first in the sixth minute.
Bodin’s right-wing cross was only meekly headed clear into the path of Johnson, who scored his second goal of the campaign past Butland, who looked slow in going down.
Buoyed by their opener, Alex Neil’s men were soon on the attack again, with Harrop charging through before firing narrowly wide.
By the midway point in the first half, Stoke had finally got back into something of a rhythm, but Tom Ince fluffed a terrific chance to level when he blazed over from just inside the Preston box.
The Potters’ prospects took a major nosedive in the 25th minute, thanks largely to a double clanger from goalkeeper Butland.
He only punched Ben Davies’ hopeful ball into the path of Bodin, then as a rather weak shot came in from the Preston man, Butland let the ball squirm under him.
Stoke emerged for the second half re-energised, and they went close when Scott Hogan stooped to head McClean’s out-swinging corner narrowly off target.
Nathan Collins saw an effort hacked off the line by Patrick Bauer, while fellow substitute Peter Etebo somehow hooked a shot clear of the crossbar from only a couple of yards out.
Time was beginning to run away from the Potters, with North End still appearing comfortable heading into the final half hour.
By the 68th minute, the hosts made it 3-0 when Butland could only parry Johnson’s initial strike into the path of Harrop, who buried the rebound from 12 yards.
There was a feisty closing 15 minutes as referee John Brooks dished out a number of yellow cards.
And not even McClean’s late consolation, tapping home Tom Edwards’ far-post cross, could prevent this from being a dismal night for a Stoke side who have just one point so far this Championship season.