EXCLUSIVE SEAN GREGAN COLUMN
Joe Garner should take it as something of a compliment that Port Vale targeted him for some rough treatment in Preston North End ’s victory over them at Deepdale.
Having scored more than 30 goals over the last 12 months he is going to be a marked man.
Teams know that Garner is a feisty lad who will give as good as he gets on the pitch and they will attempt to wind him up and give him a few digs to try and provoke a reaction from him.
You could even say it is a sign of respect that teams do that as they don’t have another way of stopping him.
I have written previously in this column how I used to try and kick Garner from pillar to post and back again when he was a young kid at Carlisle and I was playing for Oldham Athletic.
He would always get up and come back for more and that was something I respected.
During matches he just needs to ignore the attempts to wind him up and do what he does best – scoring goals.
I’m sure that when teams are being prepared by their manager to face Preston, they are always going to do some work on how to stop Garner.
When you are one of the most potent strikers in League One and regarded as PNE’s dangerman, that is something to get used to.
Although Garner did not score against Port Vale, Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne did to deliver a fifth win on the spin for North End.
Gallagher is a quality player on the ball, very experienced, and has got himself on a run of goals.
Perhaps the switch from the left wing to a central role has got him involved in the game a lot more.
What is key for Gallagher is that this area is home for him and he appears very settled.
My kids are at the same school as his and I often see him knocking around.
If a player is settled at home and not having to travel to training every day or be away in a hotel, it can help them so much on the pitch.
Gallagher is in the last year of his contract at Leicester and I would not be surprised if his loan to North End eventually became a permanent move.
The other scorer at the weekend, young Browne, has come on leaps and bounds.
I was commentating on the game when he made his debut towards the end of last season and at the time I remarked that it was a bold move to put him on as a substitute.
But he impressed me that night and seems to have really pushed on this season to the extent that he is regarded a regular first-team starter.
Browne has goals in his locker, with the one against Vale being his third this term.
It caught a deflection but they all count and I’m sure he was delighted with it.
Every now and then you get someone like Browne coming from somewhere off the radar and making an impact.
This is not the day and age for clubs in the lower divisions to be splashing the cash on big transfer fees, so if you can find little gems like this and pick them up for next to nothing, it can be seen as a great piece of business.
Hopefully, North End can follow up Saturday’s win with another three points against Gillingham on Tuesday night.
That is a long enough trek at the weekend but to have to go there in midweek is very tough on the supporters.
The rivalry between PNE and Gillingham has waned since my playing days. Back then it was Andy Hessenthaler versus myself, and David Moyes versus Tony Pulis. We had some real battles.