Aaron Brown’s debut performance for Preston North End showed promise as far as manager Graham Westley is concerned.
The strapping 6ft 5in central defender was brought into the team to face Sheffield United at short notice after left-back Jamie McAllister failed a fitness test on the morning of the match.
Signed on a short-term basis alongside Nicky Hunt at the beginning of this month, Brown became the 24th player to make his PNE bow this season – a figure last reached in the 1919/20 season.
Brown’s first game in a PNE jersey at Bramall Lane did not get off to the best of starts as he conceded a penalty after 27 minutes when he pulled down Blades’ dangerman Ched Evans.
There were a few other nervous moments in the first half, but after the break Westley felt the 28-year-old defender grew in stature.
Westley said: “In all honesty, any debutant who goes into a new team will suffer the nerves and will suffer the issue of having to learn about the players around him.
“So we did see a little bit of that, but on the whole I saw a lot of encouraging signs from him.
“He made a mistake for the penalty. It was a loss of concentration and you can put that down to a lack of match fitness – he has not been playing games.
“It was always going to be difficult for him coming in and making his debut in those circumstances, so there was a lapse in concentration there.
“Could he have done better with the header that led to the first goal?
“Perhaps he could have done. But in the second half,
did he up his game and start to look more like an accomplished player? I would say yes he did.
“He made a great goal-line clearance, made some good challenges and showed great pace down the channels.”
Brown is a player well-known to Westley.
He tried to sign him several years ago when he was showing great promise as a youngster at Tamworth.
But Football League outfit Reading beat Westley to his signature and Brown moved to the Madjeski Stadium in 2005.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for him in his time with the Royals and he left three years later without making a single appearance for the club.
Since then Brown has lived a nomadic football existence signing for a number of different league and non-league clubs.
His last club was Aldershot, where he made 12 appearances this season before signing for PNE.
Westley said: “Aaron’s a lad I tried to sign some years years ago when he was at Tamworth before he got a big move to Reading, but things have obviously not worked out for him. But I’ve always kept an eye on him – I like his raw assets and he’s someone I felt could do a job for me.
“He’s a player with a short-term arrangement with the club.
“He’s got to earn his right to a future and he’s got a lot of work to do, but I thought there were some encouraging signs on Saturday.”