Exclusive Sean Gregan column

The flag goes up against Preston striker Joe Garner as his first-half header against Scunthorpe is saved by Iron goalkeeper Luke Daniels

The flag goes up against Preston striker Joe Garner as his first-half header against Scunthorpe is saved by Iron goalkeeper Luke Daniels

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Preston North End’s win over Scunthorpe was a big result in terms of the top of the League One table and the fact it came on the back on the FA Cup clash with Manchester United.

Monday night’s game was the showpiece event if you like, while being at home to Scunthorpe was back to the nitty-gritty, everyday stuff which ultimately is far more important. There was always going to be an element of flatness about Saturday’s game but PNE got the job done and put three points in the bag.

It was good to see the young lad Daniel Johnson get his first goal for the club.

He has done that just a few games into his time at Preston and it will help him settle in.

I touched on the subject of the midfield a few weeks ago in this column, saying how the North End midfielders were quite similar.

They are all neat and tidy players, can pass a ball well but perhaps were lacking a scoring edge to their game.

Johnson has come with a reputation of scoring goals from midfield in Aston Villa’s youth team and Under-21s, so hopefully we can see him pop up in the six-yard box plenty of times.

What will help him here is having Callum Robinson, his pal from Villa, in the team.

There was another goal from Paul Gallagher, who has become such a key player for North End this season.

He also cleared one off the line at the other end when the score was 0-0, a case of being in the right place at the right time.

I am not alone in thinking that Gallagher could still play at a much higher level and he can be a major asset for 
North End over the coming months.

Hopefully, Preston can kick on from beating Scunny and get another win against Walsall on Tuesday night.

They have games in hand on the teams around them and need to make those count.

Going back to the United cup tie, I thought Preston gave a good account of themselves.

The atmosphere was great and it was nice to see Deepdale packed to the rafters.

I suppose you would say that North End scored against the run of play, in that United had all that possession in the first half without ever doing anything with it. The goal they scored was a good one, Kevin Davies getting up to win the initial header and then Joe Garner turned the pass around the corner into Scott Laird’s path.

United’s equaliser created a major talking point, with the debate raging about whether or not Wayne Rooney was interfering with play when Ander Herrera scored.

For me, Rooney was offside and interfering with play. He had to make a movement so the ball did not hit him and he was in Thorsten Stuckmann’s line of vision.

Stuckmann had to make a judgement off what Rooney did, hence him only diving late for Herrera’s shot.

Whether a player is offside and is interfering with play has become more of a grey area with every rule change..

It is so complicated now with phase one and phase two of play and so on.

During the week I heard a debate on the radio where an article written by a former goalkeeper was being discussed.

It was his view that a player is offside and interfering with play if he is within the width of the goal. That seems a fair way to look at it.

Rooney might not have been directly eye-to-eye with Stuckmann but he was clearly in his line of vision. For me, the goal should have been flagged offside.