Sean Gregan’s exclusive PNE column

Chris Maxwell is congratulated by his team-mates after saving a late penalty against Aston Villa
Chris Maxwell is congratulated by his team-mates after saving a late penalty against Aston Villa
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Preston North End will enjoy the international break over the next couple of weeks after their well-deserved victory against Aston Villa.

Although Villa are finding it tough going after relegation from the Premier League, they have a talented squad and I can see them clicking into gear at some stage.

So North End getting the better of them on Saturday at Deepdale was a timely result and it kept their recent good run going.

I suppose a result like this one and others Villa have had this season, shows that being big spenders in the transfer market does not guarantee you anything.

Of course it helps when you go out and splash the cash on players and pay Premier League-size wages.

But that has to be coupled with strong performances on the pitch and players having the correct attitude.

A feature of North End’s last few games is that the goals are being spread around the team.

Against Villa, it was Ben Pearson and Jordan Hugill finding the back of the net.

In last week’s 2-2 draw at Birmingham, Alex Baptiste and Daniel Johnson scored.

There was the hat-trick from Simon Makienok, while Callum Robinson and Tom Clarke have been among the goals too.

With North End not having a proven 20-goal a season man, you need everyone chipping in with their fair share.

Jermaine Beckford has the ability to score a bagful of goals, as we saw him do in his first season at Deepdale.

With knee surgery having kept him out of most of last season and him currently out of action with a hamstring strain, Preston have not been able to get him regularly on the pitch.

Hugill seems to be taking his chance well and the goal he got on Saturday was his fourth of the season.

I like the look of Hugill and his is a good story – how he has come from non-league football and battled against a couple of serious injuries.

It is not quite a rise in the style of Jamie Vardy but he has done really well.

There was no academy up-bringing for him, he played for a few non-league clubs in my part of the world and has steadily grafted his way to be a regular in Simon Grayson’s plans at Preston.

While North End are on a good run at present and have built up momentum, I think they will welcome the two-week break in action.

They have had a busy spell of games and it is same again when action resumes later in the month.

In the space of a fortnight, they face all of the current top four.

They start at Brighton, then it’s Huddersfield Town, Norwich and Newcastle.

That is a demanding run but those are the types of games players want to play in.

North End showed that against Villa – the visitors might be struggling but it was still a big game against a big club who were once European champions.

Meanwhile, football has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week.

Sam Allardyce was sacked as England manager after the sting by undercover reporters.

It was so silly of Allardyce to put himself in that situation so soon after landing what he said was his dream job.

He said he was having those talks as a favour to a mate – what were they doing putting him in that position?

I think Allardyce would have done well as England manager but he will not get the chance to do that – what he said has proved so costly.