Adam Lord takes a look at PNE’s derby win over Wigan on Friday night.
PNE’s number one far from clear cut
Four players who impressed against Bournemouth kept their places as PNE welcomed Wigan to Deepdale on Friday night. Simon Makienok may have grabbed the headlines but perhaps the most interesting move from Simon Grayson was to retain Chris Maxwell in goal. Having impressed in the league cup win at Dean Court the former Fleetwood man was handed a first league start and looked right at home in the Championship. A completely different goalkeeper to the man he replaced, Anders Lindegaard, Maxwell showed off his undoubted qualities with his feet and rushing from his line. One moment in the opening period saw him show good awareness to not only race to cut out a Jordi Gomez ball over the top but also release the ball before he carried it out of his area. Although lacking in stature compared to some other ‘keepers he commanded his box well and produced a couple of sharp saves when needed. Lindegaard may have the experience and the number one shirt but there looks to be a real fight on for the gloves at Deepdale.
Makienok and Hugill can work as a pair
The pairing of the big two front men looked a little rudimentary from Grayson but it wasn’t without its merits on Friday night. North End’s great Dane had to start after his cup heroics and was cheered off after his 70-minute stint in a show of appreciation that was surely also a nod to his Bournemouth hat-trick. Hugill continues to go from strength to strength, and should have added to his slightly fortuitous opener early in the second half. It was his other qualities that stood out though, always a willing runner, he overcame an ankle knock late on to help PNE keep the ball at the right end of the field late on. Accidentally swearing in his post-match Sky interview will also only have increased his cult status.
Battling qualities perfect tonic after Brentford collapse
This win may have not have been as scintillating as the one over Cardiff or as memorable as the one over Bournemouth but there’s nothing wrong with that. PNE got a bit of fortune they feel they’ve been due with the goal and then battled hard. This was workmanlike and should be celebrated as much as the other victories. Winning when you’re not at full tilt isn’t a bad quality to have and something North End struggled to do in the early part of the season. They only had 35 per cent of the possession against Wigan but it mattered not. The qualities on show, plenty of determination and graft, were the perfect response to the shocker at Brentford six days earlier.
Grayson now has a real selection headache
Having talked about having options since the start of the season what Grayson has at his disposal has become really apparent over the last week. Two good wins have come using two almost entirely different teams. Despite the horrorshow at Griffin Park there is plenty of competition for places up and down the pitch. Makienok burst onto the scene on Tuesday night as Maxwell made his claim for the number one spot. John Welsh was given a breather on Friday while Ben Pearson, after a slow start to the season, continued to show why his arrival was celebrated in January with a fine cameo off the bench against. An excellent few days has also come without the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Marnick Vermijl as they battle injury. Who gets the nod against Birmingham on Tuesday night is anyone’s guess.