Clarke wants more clean sheets for PNE

Tom Clarke applauds the PNE fans after last week's 2-0 win at Coventry
Tom Clarke applauds the PNE fans after last week's 2-0 win at Coventry
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Preston North End skipper Tom Clarke regards goalscoring as a bonus, with clean sheets at the other end of the pitch his No.1 priority.

Centre-half Clarke got off the mark for this campaign in the weekend win at Coventry.

Last season he weighed in with six goals, announcing himself to the PNE faithful with the headed winner against arch rivals Blackpool.

Just as pleasing for Clarke was the clean sheet in the Ricoh Arena victory, which came on the back of a shut-out against Crawley.

Three in a row in this weekend’s Deepdale clash with Colchester United would be most welcome.

Clarke told the Evening Post: “It was nice to score at Coventry and Bailey Wright got one the week before against Crawley.

“We have players all over the pitch who are capable of scoring, which is what you want.

“But it is a bonus for us defenders when we score – our main aim is to keep them out at the other end.

“It wasn’t like us to concede three in a game like we did the other week against Walsall and Chesterfield.

“We weren’t used to that and I’ve got to say it really hurt us. So it has been nice to keep two clean sheets on the bounce.”

Clarke took a great deal of satisfaction in the 2-0 success at Coventry, his 61st-minute goal added to by a Joe Garner penalty.

“Getting off the mark for the season was good and hopefully I can get a few more as the season goes on,” said Clarke.

“I got six last season, which I thought was a decent return. Something similar this time would be good.

“Paul Gallagher put in a great delivery for my goal and, as a defender, I know how hard it is to defend against quality balls like that – you either end up putting it in your own net or you just have to leave them.

“At first I was going to go for the free-kick with my head but it dipped late on and I just needed to stick out my foot to make contact.

“I thought the goal was something we fully deserved and Joe then got the penalty, which gave us that cushion.

“Our performance there was really good. I felt we controlled the game, kept the ball well and probed when we had to.

“We were patient in waiting to score and organised in stopping Coventry playing.”

North End lock horns with Colchester on Saturday, hoping to sign off from League One action on a winning note before the international break.

They tackle Port Vale in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy next Tuesday but then do not play until October 18 when Vale are again their opponents in the league.

Colchester’s results have picked up of late after a change of manager, Tony Humes having stepped up from his job as youth-team coach to replace Joe Dunne.

Their 3-0 win at Crewe last Saturday lifted them out of the bottom four.

Said Clarke: “We have been working hard in the sessions in the first part of this week ahead of playing Colchester.

“They have had some good results recently so we know what type of game we are going to face.

“Last month Colchester changed their manager and he has brought a few young lads through from the youth team.

“We will be going into the game full of confidence on the back of two wins and hopefully we can make it three.”

Meanwhile, North End’s visit to Rochdale on Saturday, November 1, will be all ticket.

They have been allocated 2,000 seats in the Willbutts Lane Stand and tickets are now on sale at Deepdale.

Prices are £20 for adults, £14 for Over-65s and 17 to 21 years and £5 for the Under-16s.