Tim Mercer’s Preston North End’s fans’ panel verdict: Push for play-offs begins here!

A win at last, the first one since mid-December, got PNE back on track for a play-off push.

Sunday, 19th January 2020, 4:00 pm
PNE boss Alex Neil greets Charlton manager Lee Bowyer

Yes, we deserved the three points from the match overall, but why oh why do we make it such hard work for ourselves by needlessly conceding another goal within the opening few minutes?

This must stop if we are to maintain any hopes of that top-six finish, but there were many positives to take from the game.

These include a full 90 minutes for Scott Sinclair and the superb continuation of recent form by Josh Harrop. Whisper it quietly, but is this the point where Harrop comes of age and an automatic choice for Alex Neil?

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It wasn’t just his cracking equaliser that caught the eye. It was his all-round contribution that also saw him take responsibility for the defensive side as well, including a Pearson-esque recovery run and press for a seemingly hopeless cause that wrestled possession back for the team.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that something’s clicked in the last three games and it could be like having a new signing. Sinclair showed some lovely touches and turns and got close to scoring a couple of times on the end of mazy runs.

For the second one of these he should probably have laid the ball off to Tom Barkhuizen, but we’ll forgive him as he builds up match fitness and shakes off the rustiness that comes with lack of minutes. Harrop also notched up an assist for the winning goal early in the second half from a slightly more flighted corner that found the head of Patrick Bauer and an emphatic finish – Bauer’s rather muted celebration no doubt being a consequence of his heroic winning goal in the play-off final last May that put Charlton into the Championship.

Apart from that opening goal by recent PNE loanee Andre Green, 
the visitors rarely threatened and it turned out to be a reasonably comfortable win by the end.