Pearson felt first PNE goal had been coming

Preston North End's Ben Pearson celebrates scoring the opening goal - his first for the club.
Preston North End's Ben Pearson celebrates scoring the opening goal - his first for the club.
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Ben Pearson claims shooting isn’t his strong point.

But Preston fans might beg to differ after seeing the former Manchester United youngster break his North End duck with a cool finish to kick off the win against Aston Villa at Deepdale.

The goal, coming just four minutes into proceedings on Saturday, was the culmination of a fine couple of weeks for Pearson who has starred since returning to the side having barely kicked a ball in the opening weeks of the season.

“The last two games it’s been coming,” said the 21-year-old.

“If I’m honest I’m not the best at shooting or scoring goals so I can’t really complain about missing chances because I’m not very good at it but it has been coming.

“I said to Thommo (first-team coach Steve Thompson) ‘I reckon I can get one today’ and it’s come and I’ve tucked it away.”

The early goal, Pearson firing past Mark Bunn after pouncing on a loose ball in the box, set the tone for a fine afternoon for North End.

The midfielder then poached the ball from Ashley Westwood to start the move that ended with Jordan Hugill scoring the second five minutes before the interval.

The two-goal lead was the least that North End deserved, Simon Grayson’s side having had the openings to be out of sight by half-time.

“They’re a good side and you look at them on paper and wonder how they are where they are in the league at the moment,” said Pearson.

“I just think getting that early goal and then making it 2-0 really settled us.

“We got into our rhythm of passing and to be honest I don’t think they really caused us many problems throughout the game.

“Credit to the defenders as well.”

PNE’s tactics paid off, pressing high up the field and forcing errors from an out-of-form and under-pressure Villa side who looked shaky at the back from the off.

“We said before the game we’re going to press them high and we’re not going to let them have time on the ball,” said Pearson.

“I think the first 15 minutes showed that everyone knew what they were doing.

“Everyone was working hard and everyone was listening to what we were trying to get out of the game.

“I think it’s worked a treat. We’ve got in twice pressing high.

“The tactics worked well today.”

Having joined from United in January after impressing on loan with Barnsley many expect Pearson to kick on this season.

Despite rarely featuring in the first month of the season the midfelder is now showing why his signing was seen of something of a coup.

His emergence has coincided with an upturn in form for PNE, this a third straight home win and a performance that Pearson rated amongst the best of his time with the club.

“The result and the performance was good.” he said.

“I think it’s probably up there with the best we’ve played since I’ve been at the club.

“There’s no complaints from anyone, everyone worked hard, understood the role they needed to do and we’ve taken our chances which has been a bit of a criticism of late.

“It’s all gone perfectly.”