Sean Gregan’s exclusive column

Preston North End's Joe Garner is brought down by Blackburn Rovers' Shane Duffy
Preston North End's Joe Garner is brought down by Blackburn Rovers' Shane Duffy
Share this article
4
Have your say

Unbeaten runs have to end sometime but for defeat to come against your local rivals, a fixture which hasn’t been played for a number of years, was a big blow for Preston.

Defeat against Blackburn at Deepdale was probably harsh on PNE but now the focus has to go on putting together another good run.

One defeat in seven isn’t bad and something similar, with one or two more wins, over the coming weeks would suit very nicely.

A positive to come out of the game from North End’s perspective was seeing Joe Garner on the scoresheet.

It has been a bit of a wait for him to score but he’s stuck at it and hopefully that is him up and running.

When Garner first joined Preston, it took him quite a while to get off the mark.

He was nowhere near being a first-choice selection but continued to fight for his place and once he started scoring, he didn’t stop for 18 months.

In that time, Garner made himself impossible to drop.

Fingers crossed, Saturday’s goal can be the first of a decent amount for him – I would still think he can make double figures.

It was just a shame that an equaliser could not be found after Garner had got North End back into the game.

Fair enough, they had lots of pressure in the final half hour or so, but there was not too much clear-cut stuff.

In this division, you have got to do a bit more than simply putting the ball into the box.

You are playing against very good defenders,some of them internationals.

We saw it against Bolton last month when big David Wheater was heading every cross out of the box.

Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley did the same sort of thing for Rovers.

In the Championship you have to be a bit cleverer in the final third, be confident enough to play one-twos around the edge of the box and make runs to create space.

You want to be moving the opposition defenders around, not let them settle into a shape where they find it comfortable to defend.

You need your ball players like Paul Gallagher to be on the same wavelength, understand from which areas you are going to be most threatening.

The next block of games for North End starts in London this weekend against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

There could well be a new manager in place at Fulham by then – that would be three games in a row that Preston have faced a club with a new face in the dug out.

If there has not been an appointment, the rumours will be flying around about who the next man is going to be.

The last time North End played at Fulham was in 2000 during my time at the club.

At the time, Fulham were unbeaten at the top of the table and had Jean Tigana as manager.

We went to Craven Cottage on a Tuesday night and became the first team to beat them.

Michael Appleton sneaked the winner direct from a corner and we managed to hold on to the 1-0 lead.

I played centre-half that night instead of midfield which by then, was my regular position.

Louis Saha was up front for Fulham and dealing with him was hard work!

He was at a different level with his movement and took some watching.

We took another point off Fulham at Deepdale a couple of months later but it was not a surprise to see them promoted as champions that season.