Pearson praise for PNE star Gallagher

Preston North Ends Ben Pearson
Preston North Ends Ben Pearson
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Ben Pearson has praised the way Paul Gallagher plays a ‘quarter-back’ role at the base of Preston’s midfield.

Gallagher was outstanding in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Blackburn, with much of PNE’s play going through him.

Alongside him in the engine room were Pearson and Alan Browne, those two providing the legs and energy.

“When Blackburn went down to 10 men, myself and Browney pushed a bit higher up and it gave Gally more time on the ball,” said Pearson.

“If you give him time he can pick passes out, it is good for him to get in that free role.

“It is more of a quarter-back role Gally plays.

“A lot of teams go for a tough tackler in front of the defence but if you have a ball player there and keep possession, it works well.

“My role in the midfield at Blackburn suited me, I was able to get forward knowing Gally was behind.

“Browney and myself had the legs to get back when we needed to get people behind the ball and defend.”

North End will be looking to follow-up the win over Rovers with three more points against Fulham at Deepdale.

After the drama of a local derby at Ewood Park and the occasion of playing in front of 7,000 away fans, it is back to the bread and butter.

Reflecting on the events of the weekend, Pearson said: “It was a really good win.

“We struggled for the first 20 minutes but after their lad got sent-off it was a completely different game and we began to dominate.

“We would have made it 1-1 even if they had kept 11 men on the pitch because the shot which was handled on the line would have gone in.

“It was a deserved win in the end and everyone was really pleased to be part of it.

“The away following was so impressive, to look into the crowd and see a stand full of Preston fans made a big difference.

“It is the most away fans that I have played in front of and even when we came out to warm-up there were already a few thousand in the stand.

“It was important to get the three points when they had travelled in such numbers.”

If there was a slight personal disappointment for Pearson at the weekend, it was not adding his name to the scoresheet.

A chance in the second-half to open his PNE acount went begging, with the 21-year-old putting a glorious chance wide after being teed-up by Adam Reach on the break.

Said Pearson: “It was a bad miss, I probably hit it too nicely.

“I’m sure my first Preston goal will come soon, it is not something I’m worrying too much about.

“I was pleased to get into the position to shoot in the first place – I should have finished it but I’ll learn from it.”

Pearson finds himself in probably the most competitive area of North End’s squad.

There are a number of centre midfield options available to Simon Grayson.

Against Rovers, Daniel Johnson had to be content with a place on the bench.

Neil Kilkenny and John Welsh did not make the 18-man squad, while there is still Liam Grimshaw to return after knee surgery.

“Before Saturday’s game and before the team was named, you try and work out who might play and how the team will be shaped,” said Pearson.

“We had 20-21 players fully fit and available which is great for the manager.

“You need players pushing each other for a place to keep things healthy.

“Every player is the same though, they just want to be playing .”

Fulham come to Deepdale in need of points to keep out of trouble.

They are currently fourth bottom, with a four-point cushion between themselves and the relegation zone.

For a team who were only relegated from the Premier League in May 2014, it has been a fall from grace.

Pearson is certainly surprised to see the Cottagers at that end of the table.

He said: “They have been struggling but got a good win on Saturday against MK Dons.

“Fulham will be fighting for the points here so we can expect a tough game.

“When you look at their team on paper, it is up there with the best in the league.

“They are similar to Queens Park Rangers I would say, in terms of the standard of players, the wages and the budget they have.

“With that squad, they should really be up there at the other end of the division and you would say that they have under-achieved.

“If Fulham stay up, I think they will be massive contenders for promotion next year.”