Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell dives to save Tomer Hemeds stoppage-time penalty
Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell dives to save Tomer Hemeds stoppage-time penalty
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Preston beating Brighton was a bit of a coupon buster judging by the strong run which the visitors had been on.

To win against a team who were 18 games unbeaten and top of the table, was a superb result and one which not many people apart from the Deepdale faithful would have expected.

It was a brilliant three points for North End and just what they needed to kick on from the promising display put in against Arsenal in the FA Cup.

The victory puts PNE in a very decent position, ninth in the table and six points off the play-offs. It is not as if there are only a few games left to close that gap, there are 20 matches to play.

If North End can maintain the type of consistency they have shown in the last three or four months, who knows what can happen?

They have only lost three Championship games in the last 18, which is good going.

It was nice to see a goal from Paul Huntington, his first since Wembley.

Having had plenty of games as a defender in my career, I know how important it is to chip in with a few goals from the back.

Huntington has got back into the team in the last month and done very well.

Players can be out of the picture but then get back in for whatever reason.

In Huntington’s case, it was the situation with Bailey Wright which saw him get his chance again.

Now that Wright has gone, it gives Huntington the chance to cement a regular spot in the team.

North End’s second goal against Brighton came from Callum Robinson, a lad who has done well this season and developed after his three loan spells at Deepdale.

He did well in running on to the ball over the top and holding off the defender, with him having plenty of pace in his locker.

The goals are starting to come – he has got seven for the season – and if he can score more consistently, Preston have a very good player on their hands.

It does seem that PNE are being more expansive in their play this season.

Last season, it was all about consolidating in the Championship after taking a few years to get back there.

With a bit more attacking quality added this time, they are going after sides a bit more and scoring more goals.

Having that extra year’s experience and knowing the division better, their game is developing.

Yes, they are conceding a few more but that tends to happen with leaving gaps as you attack. It is about striking a good balance between playing attacking football and keeping the back door shut.

Preston got that in the win over Brighton, having the clean sheet to add to the goals they scored.

It is another big game for them next Saturday against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

There is no reason why they cannot come back with a good result – North End are above Villa in the league and in good form.

It is an away day which the fans will look forward to, 
Villa Park being one of the best stadiums in the country and PNE not having played there for quite a while.