Preston North End can be more than happy with Saturday’s draw against Brighton at the Amex Stadium, especially with how it was achieved.
own to 10 men, going into stoppage-time losing 2-1 and to finish with a 2-2 draw was a decent achievement.
Had you offered North End a draw beforehand, they would have snapped your hand off.
Brighton are right up there and will be challenging for the play-offs minimum this season – I think they will be right in the mix for automatic.
They have a big budget which was shown when they were turning down bids of £8m for Dale Stephens on transfer deadline day.
Stephens was with me at Oldham a few years back and if you are turning down the size of bids they were getting for him, Brighton obviously have the budget to afford to do that.
North End’s equaliser came from Simon Makienok and shows the value of having a big striker in your squad.
Used properly, they can be a right handful and get their fair share of goals.
Last month, Makienok got a hat-trick at Bournemouth in the EFL Cup and it was nice to see him get his first in the league for PNE on Saturday.
He was that option in the box at Brighton, a target for when you put the ball in the mix and hope to get someone on the end of it.
There is more to his game than just that, but Makienok’s height is always going to be a strong point.
Looking back to the Euros in the summer, I always thought that England could have done with the option of having a big striker in the squad, Andy Carroll fitted that bill.
The other strikers were similar to one another and if a different approach was needed in a game, there wasn’t really a Plan ‘B’.
It is five games unbeaten now for North End in the league and cup.
They started the season poorly in terms of results, but a bit of patience seems to be paying off.
There was a bit of flak aimed at Simon Grayson after those defeats in August and the first part of September.
But the board stood by him, had confidence in what he was doing and the results have started to come. Just at the moment, it is about building-up the points, developing a consistency to results.
The draw against Brighton followed-up the victory over Aston Villa – four points from the two games this month so far.
It doesn’t get any easier though, with Huddersfield to come on Wednesday night, then Norwich at the weekend, followed by Newcastle in the cup and then the league.
Although they dropped off the top of the table over the weekend and were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday, Huddersfield have done really well so far and surprised many people.
David Wagner, who was assistant manager to Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, has gone in there and got them flying with a great brand of football.
Wagner is getting on for a year in the job and has had the time to get a squad together, work with the players and get them playing the way he wants.
If Preston can get a good result against them, it will fill them with confidence for the Norwich and Newcastle games which will really test them.
I would think there will be a decent-sized crowd under the lights at Deepdale.
It is not a derby game but Huddersfield isn’t exactly a million miles away – and they should bring a big following over the Pennines.