Preston North End’s hat-trick hero Joe Garner admitted his guilt for Fleetwood Town’s opening goal spurred him on to slay the Cod Army.
Garner’s 18 minute second-half goal spree erased Fleetwood’s early lead as PNE fought back to win 3-2 on Saturday.
Fleetwood boss and former North End hero Graham Alexander couldn’t have asked for a better start on his return to Deepdale as they went two up with seven minutes on the clock.
And Garner – who captained the side due to Tom Clarke’s illness – blames himself for Stephen Jordan’s first minute opener and revealed that defensive lapse inspired his clinical attacking masterclass.
He said: “I think the first goal is my fault and that is why I had to get us out of trouble.
“I was marking the centre half who scored, he had a little bit of a run on me and got up above me.
“I got us out of it but I need to improve on my defending.
“It’s not my main job but it is a cheap goal to give away and I should have made it more difficult for them.
“But I never get sick of being the matchwinner. To captain the side at Deepdale, score a hat-trick and beat Fleetwood in a derby match is a great feeling.”
This time last season Garner was out of the side but a whirlwind year and a plethora of goals have seen the striker become the first name of the team-sheet.
Garner’s hat-trick was two minutes quicker than his 20 minute demolition of Ipswich in the FA Cup last term.
The 25-year-old – who completed his hat-trick in the 78th minute with a fierce strike off his weaker left foot – is hungry for more goals.
He said: “Left footed goals don’t always happen as it is my weaker foot.
“Two good crosses for my headers. I work with the lads everyday and they know where I like the ball.
“It is my 11th of the season and this time last season I wasn’t getting in the side.
“I put pressure on myself every week to score goals. I just need to keep it up and keep working hard for the team.
“It is my second hat-trick and hopefully I can get another at Leyton Orient tomorrow.”
North End boss Simon Grayson shifted formation to 4-4-2 at the start of the second-half adding veteran striker Kevin Davies and John Welsh to the mix.
And Garner praised strike partner Davies’ impact.
Garner said: “I think Kev is a top quality player. He attracts so much attention, I think defenders get drawn to him and it frees up a little bit of space for me – he’s helped me a lot.
“I think we struggled first half but when I walked off at half-time I had a thought to myself that they are going to be sitting back in the second half.
“So I waited for the chances, tried to be patient and I took them when they came.
“We scored at important times. Three goals in quick succession just knocked them for six.
“It is three points and seven wins in a row, so we are happy and the fanss were brilliant.”
PNE will find out their FA Cup first round opponents tonight. North End are ball number 36 and the draw takes place at 7pm.