Preston Athletic joint-manager Paul Riley dedicated his side’s victory over Selkirk to the club’s committee, who he says work tirelessly around the clock.
It was former Hibs player Riley’s first appearance in the dugout alongside Jack Lynch following the duo’s appointment last weekend, predecessor Craig Nisbet having been relieved of his duties after a torrid campaign that has consigned the Panners to bottom spot in the Lowland League this term.
East of Scotland football looks likely for the Pennypit men next season, but Riley and Lynch have reason to be optimistic in what was an industrious performance from their players.
Goals from Jack Jardine, Lewis Turkington and Fabio Neto rewarded the East Lothian side with just their fifth victory of the season and Riley was quick to compliment the efforts of those above him.
“The victory is for the chairman and the committee who have worked so hard all season,” the 41-year-old said. “It hasn’t been easy, but they have been absolutely fantastic to Jack and I since we came in last weekend and we know we have their full support going forward.”
On the match itself, Riley said: “In the short time we’ve had with the squad, any win would have been an absolute bonus so we’re delighted. It was everything I expected and the pace of the game is exactly what I thought it would be. At this stage of the season the park isn’t great for trying to play football so the players played the conditions well. Over the piece I think we were worthy winners.
“They gave me 100 per cent. We had two fantastic training sessions so I couldn’t come here expecting to win, but I believed we would win. The first thing we said to the guys was go and be competitive. I know how football works and you aren’t going to win every week but you can be competitive. If we can win our last two games then great. If not we’ll have a rest, recharge our batteries and get ready for next year.”
The co-managers couldn’t have hoped for a better start as striker Jardine caught sight of the visitors’ goal and his shot was inadvertently bundled over the line by goalkeeper Gregor Amos to give the hosts the lead after just four minutes.
Selkirk’s Ross King forced Craig Pennycuick into action as the Borderers sought an instant response before Jordan Hopkinson’s effort on the turn had to be turned around the post by the home No.1.
The visitors drew level three minutes before the interval, though, as a trialist needlessly pulled the shirt of Gary Nicholson inside the penalty area and Ricky Millar made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Pennycuick the wrong way.
Nicholson should have put his side ahead just seconds later but he wasted a gilt-edged chance heading wide from little more than eight yards.
The match swung the way in Selkirk’s favour three minutes after the restart when Hopkinson latched onto Mark Ugochukwu’s pass to score, but youngster Turkington had other ideas when he levelled things up with a truly stunning free-kick from all of 30 yards.
Two minutes later and Preston restored their lead. Amos selfishly lashed out at Jason Young and referee Kyle Hall gave Neto the opportunity from the spot which he duly dispatched to net the home side’s third of the afternoon.
Millar should have then been shown his marching orders for pushing Jamie Cochrane in the face but his actions went unpunished.
Preston Athletic: Pennycuick, Trialist Dale Pennycuick, Cochrane, McLeod, Keane, Conway, Cochrane, Turkington, Jardine (Inglis 51), Young, Neto. Subs: Lawson, McMahon, Reid, Law.
Selkirk: Amos, Sclater, Christie, Fleming, Millar, King, Nicholson (Valatika 62), Ugochukwu, Koroma, Hopkinson, Addison.