Dave Seddon’s PNE Press view

Preston North End's Chris Humphrey is congratulated on scoring his sides 1st goal during their Johnstone's Paint Trophy win against Port Vale.

Preston North End's Chris Humphrey is congratulated on scoring his sides 1st goal during their Johnstone's Paint Trophy win against Port Vale.

Share this article
2
Have your say

I think it is fair to say that the real Chris Humphrey has started to stand up on a more consistent basis for Preston North End

Another strong performance in the midweek win over Port Vale and another goal points to a winger playing with plenty of confidence.

His four goals to date have put Humphrey second only to Joe Garner in the Lilywhites scoring charts.

Finally he has started finding the net at Deepdale too. Until last Saturday, the 27-year-old had not scored in front of the home faithful since joining North End from Motherwell.

Now two have come at once, London buses spring to mind. Last season, Humphrey probably frustrated and excited in equal measure.

On his day the Jamaica international could stretch any defence to near breaking point, and goals at Coventry, Walsall and Oldham showed he knew where the net was.

However, on other days we did not see that from him and at times he proved a peripheral figure. Mind you, he remained a key part of the 3-5-2 system which laid the foundations of some strong away results around this time last year.

And perhaps playing in that formation saw some of the edge taken off his attacking play by the work needed going the other way. Just a thought.

Humphrey did not start this season in the starting XI, his role to the right of Garner in a 4-3-3 going to Andy Little.

For the third game of the campaign against Scunthorpe he got back in, tormenting veteran left-back Andy Dawson and starring in the 4-0 win at Glanford Park.

Dawson, coincidently, has been appointed as Scunny’s caretaker manager this week in the wake of Russ Wilcox’s seemingly harsh dismissal.

Humphrey scored against Scunthorpe, so too at Doncaster four nights later.

An injury suffered in the defeat at Walsall restricted his use for a couple of games.

But he was lively at Coventry a fortnight ago and then came his two goalscoring-displays against Colchester and Vale.

Should Humphrey maintain this consistency, he can have a key role for North End this season. Just think of him on song on one wing and a match-sharp Kyel Reid on the other?

That combination could give a set of full-backs a couple of sleepless nights. A team effort appears to have helped Humphrey capture his form of late.

The player himself, a most honest and likeable lad when it comes to interviews, revealed in pre-season how he fitness levels were being boosted by sessions with PNE’s conditioning coach Tom Little.

When on media duties after the victory over Vale, Glynn Snodin talked about the extra work and listening which Humphrey was doing.

Wingers are part of the DNA at Deepdale and should Humphrey continue to show the form we have seen in recent weeks, I am sure he will steadily win most fans over.

If Humphrey’s performance in midweek showed what he can be all about, it also again underlined the importance of his team-mate Garner to North End.

The chip he produced for his goal was exquisite, it was pure precision. Bar being stood on the goal line, Vale keeper Chris Neal did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of saving it.

That is eight for the season, and five in the last six games for Garner.

You shudder to think how it might have been without him had bids from the Suffolk and South Yorkshire areas of the Championship lured him away in the summer.

Tuesday’s chip was his 32nd goal in a Preston shirt, 31 of them hitting the back of the net in the last 11 months.

What value do you put on a goal return like that? And for that matter, where would you go for a ready-made replacement? Meanwhile, if you need your fix of football this weekend, may I suggest a visit to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium for the FA Cup clash between Bamber Bridge and Chorley.

Two local rivals – and both of them fine clubs – will be going tot-to-toe in a third qualifying round tie.

The winners would then have just one more qualifying round to get through before clubs from League One and League Two join in.

Both have had great FA Cup runs in the past. Brig reached the second round in 1999, only losing to Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium by a disputed penalty.

And for those a little bit longer in the tooth, who can forget Chorley’s two meetings with Preston in the second round in 1986?

Goalless at neutral Ewood Park, the Magpies finally succumbed on the Deepdale plastic a few nights later.