Stuart Beavon missed out on the sponsors’ man of the match award after the midweek victory over Peterborough – but there was no doubt that he got the thumbs-up from the Preston North End supporters.
After Paul Gallagher had been announced as the official chosen one, the Town End launched into a loud rendition of ‘There’s only one Stuart Beavon’ to deliver their vote.
The striker did not find the net in a 3-1 victory. However, his work-rate up front was second to none.
A moment in the second half when he brought a high ball down with a deft touch of his boot – described by team-mate Gallagher as being ‘Dennis Bergkamp-esque’ –was worth the award itself.
“It was a nice feeling to hear the fans sing my name and it was nice when they applauded me off the pitch at the end,” said Beavon.
“Being back involved again was great and I really enjoyed being back in the side.
“To hear praise from the manager and supporters was great.”
Beavon’s start on Tuesday night was his first in more than three months.
Since December’s 2-2 draw against tomorrow’s opponents Crawley Town, the 29-year-old had found himself warming the bench on a game-by-game basis.
For two months he was an unused substitute, a run broken by finally getting on to the pitch in February’s visit to MK Dons.
A lively half-hour as a sub at Swindon last week saw him play his way into Simon Grayson’s starting plans for the Peterborough game.
Patience paid off then, although by his own admission, that was in short supply when watching from the sidelines.
Said Beavon: “I’m not the most patient of players – I don’t think many footballers are.
“I did get quite frustrated when I wasn’t playing but in the end I just waited my turn.
“I suppose that I couldn’t argue too much because we were fourth in the league for a long time and then fifth.
“Joe Garner has been scoring a lot of goals and the other boys have been doing well too. A few times I spoke with the gaffer about wanting to play matches and he said that he totally understood where I was coming from.
“The gaffer just told me to be patient and that at some stage an opportunity would come for me to get back in the side.
“That chance came against Peterborough and I came back in with a determination to do well and stay in the side.
“I thought that Joe and myself linked up well in the attack.
“We can both play on the ground, Joe is good in the air too and I can run all day.
“It was a decent partnership and hopefully we can continue to do well for the team in the games ahead.”
Beavon surprised himself by lasting the full game, Grayson choosing to use his substitutes in other areas of the pitch.
But it is safe to say that the striker’s legs were aching in the closing stages of the game, and more so on Wednesday morning.
“It was a struggle to get out of bed the morning after,” said Beavon.
“With 15 minutes left, I said to Gally, ‘When you are over on that side of the pitch let the gaffer know that I have cramp in both of my legs’.
“But I stayed on and played the full game.
“At the very end when Joe scored his second goal, I was on the edge of the box and wanted to get in there but my legs just wouldn’t work! I hadn’t expected to do the 90 minutes having not started for three months and only playing one full game in the reserves.
“When I was out of the team I worked hard in training each session and stayed in good shape, so that served me well.
“I’ve got a full game in my locker now and I feel much better for having done that.
“I treated myself to a spa day on Wednesday to recover and get the legs going again – it was nice to do that.”
Beavon will be looking to stretch Crawley’s back four at Deepdale tomorrow (3pm).
Three points would keep alive North End’s slim chances of automatic promotion, although the play-offs look to be offering the most realistic route to a return to the Championship.
The PNE players are not ready to accept the play-offs just yet, with the victory over Peterborough having come as a tremendous boost.
Beavon said: “The top two are a few points clear but football is a funny game. We are confident of winning our last seven games and if that happens, let’s see where it takes us.
“It is Crawley next, a side who have picked up quite a bit, so it will be a tough game.
“At their place we threw away two points after getting pegged back to 2-2 after being 2-0 up.
“We were in control for a lot of that game, cruising along but our concentration levels dropped and Crawley got back into it.
“It is frustrating when you look back at quite a few times when we didn’t get three points, having been winning.
“If we had been a bit better, we might be higher up.”