A RAMPANT Millwall side moved to within two points of the play-offs this evening with an emphatic demolition of Preston at The Den.

First half goals from Darren Purse and Josh McQuoid were added to after the break by a third from John Marquis and a James Henry penalty as the Lions kept their Wembley dream alive in style.

The unavailability of strike duo Steve Morison and Neil Harris through suspension, as well as the absence of the injured Kevin Lisbie, left manager Kenny Jackett desperately short of options up front.

McQuoid and Marquis led the line, with Hamuer Bouazza another potential attacking option on the bench.

The home side were presented with an early opportunity inside the opening minute when Henry was fouled by Bongani Khumalo.

Andros Townsend swung the free-kick into a packed penalty area and although Darren ward was able to get on the end of it, he was unable to get any real control on the ball and Preston's defence hacked the danger clear. Former Lion Darren Carter blazed a volley high over the bar from 20 yards in Preston's first attacking, while Marquis shot straight at Iain Turner at the other end.

Another Townsend free-kick caused problems for Preston in the ninth minute after it picked out an unmarked Liam Trotter, who was only denied by the quick-thinking of Turner.

From the resultant corner, Henry swung in a cross looked to be heading in until Turner pushed it over the bar.

On 13 minutes Townsend left Barry Nicholson for dead before passing to Henry, whose shot was tipped onto the post by Turner.

McQuoid tried to fire in from the rebound but his effort was blocked by Khumalo before Carter finally cleared.

Eddie Johnson's dipping 20 yard shot just went over Forde's bar seconds later and Ward made a crucial block to prevent Chris Brown firing home Billy Jones' cross.

McQuoid shot into the side-netting and then Marquis drilled a low drive straight at Turner two minutes later as Millwall continued to press.

But after the high tempo bright start, the Lions ran out of steam as the half wore on and Preston slowly but surely began to make things look more even.

Turner was called back into action three minutes before the break to punch behind Alan Dunne's cross.

However, the visiting keeper was all at sea from the resulting Henry corner, completely flapping at it and allowing Purse to head home.

And Preston's afternoon went from bad to worse within 90 seconds as McQuoid's stunning 30 yard strike flew past Turner and into the back of the net to put the Lions in complete control at the interval.

Jimmy Abdou came on for Trotter at the start of the second half but Preston could have got themselves right back in it within a minute when Iain Hume's cross was headed straight at Forde.

The Millwall keeper was able to make an even easier save from Keith Tracey on 50 minutes.

But the game was made safe four minutes later as Millwall added a decisive third.

McQuoid's cross from the right picked out Townsend, who in turn found Abdou and his pass to Marquis ended in the rookie striker firing past Turner from close range.

Henry placed an ambitious 30 yard free-kick over the bar on 62 minutes as the Lions looked to pile on the misery for Phil Brown's relegation-threatened side.

They did just let when a bad mistake by Craig Morgan allowed McQuoid to bear down on goal and he was only stopped in his tracks by a clumsy challenge from Turner.

Preston's keeper received a yellow card for his sins and there was nothing he could do to stop Henry smashing home the penalty.

McQuoid made way for Bouazza midway through the half and Tony Craig was introduced for Dunne five minutes later.

Preston's shocking second half display was summed up perfectly by an unmarked Carter blazing a wild effort over the bar after Treacy had played a free-kick into his path.

Forde had to be alert to tip over Carter's 77th minute shot from just outside of the area, while Treacy rather optimistically claimed his shot on goal moments later had been handled in the area by Craig.

Tamika Mkandawire probably should have done better than shoot wide from 20 yards with five minutes remaining.

Carter still had time to miss the target just before three minutes of stoppage time were signalled by the fourth official.

Unfortunately the Lions were unable to add to their tally but all attention now switches to Scunthorpe on Monday because Jackett knows this victory will count for little if Millwall fail to pick up anything less than three points there.

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Millwall: Forde, Dunne (Craig 72), Purse, Ward, Barron, Henry, Mkandawire, Trotter (Abdou 46), Towsend, McQuoid (Bouazza 67), Marquis. Subs not used: Mildenhall, Robinson, Scofield, Hackett.