Five talking points from Preston North End's victory at Wigan Athletic
Preston North End brought the points home from Wigan as goals from Tom Barkhuizen and Daniel Johnson gave them a 2-1 win at the DW Stadium.
It was a fifth game unbeaten for Alex Neil’s men who now head to Stoke on Wednesday night.
Here are five of the talking points from the clash.
1. Barkhuizen and Johnson both moved into double figures of goals for the season as they found the net at the DW.
In recent seasons North End have always had one player who has edged into double figures but to have two doing so in February is encouraging.
For Barkhuizen, it was another derby goal – that is eight in three years in games against Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton Wanderers.
Johnson’s 10 goals have come in 21 Championship appearances – remember he is only returned last month from a nine-game lay-off.
2. Ben Pearson is in a fine streak of form and caught the eye of the Sky commentary team in the Wigan game.
His former team-mate Jermaine Beckford, on pundit duties for the broadcaster, tipped him to go on and play in the Premier League.
Pearson was given the man of the match award by Sky too, presented with it in a post-match interview on the pitch.
It is worth noting that this was a sixth game in a row for the midfielder without a yellow card – equalling his best run of behaviour at PNE.
3. Alex Neil’s selection saw some fans question his use of Sean Maguire over Josh Harrop who dropped down to the bench.
It wasn’t a like-for-like swap, more a case of putting a striker into the team.
Maguire might have played a lot of games this season in a wider role but he came to PNE as a striker and sees that as his natural position.
Had it been Maguire, David Nugent or Jayden Stockley who played as the striker, it did mean someone having to drop out of the side which had started the previous two games.
If it wasn’t Harrop it was either Scott Sinclair, DJ, Alan Browne or Barkhuizen who would have to drop out.
Harrop was the unlucky one but got on the pitch as a 69th minute substitute.
4. PNE started the game with a right-back and left-back in their natural roles but it all changed in the last 20 minutes or so.
Andrew Hughes having to come off after feeling his hamstring saw Neil choose to move Darnell Fisher to the left and put Tom Clarke on at right-back.
He had Joe Rafferty on the bench who can play in both full-back roles but gave Clarke the nod due to the height the skipper offers.
Neil reasoned that with Wigan launching the ball into the PNE box, Clarke’s height to compensate the loss of Hughes was the better option.
It has to be noted that North End didn’t concede after making that change and again this was a change for a specific situation.
5. Preston were backed by 3,294 travelling fans at the DW Stadium.
Had the game not been on television, the numbers would have been greater but more than 3,000 was decent in the circumstances.
This North West derby doesn't capture the imagination in the way the derby with Blackburn does.
There are four away games in February, with the trip to Fulham on the 29th close to a sell-out already.
For the record, this was North End's first victory at the DW - or the JJB Stadium as it was - since April 2000 when Michael Jackson scored the winner in PNE's Second Division promotion campaign.