Dave Seddon's PNE press view

My page-design colleague at LEP Towers, no doubt fuelled by several cups of strong coffee, put a fine headline on my Preston North End match report for Wednesday's paper.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th September 2016, 7:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:57 pm
Jordan Hugill battles with Cardiff City's Sean Morrison
Jordan Hugill battles with Cardiff City's Sean Morrison

‘It’s the year of our Jord’ ran across the top of my take on the 3-0 win over Cardiff.

That was reference to the rather good goal scored by Jordan Hugill, one which capped off a victory which was much needed.

For Hugill, it has certainly been a good week.

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Tuesday night’s curler into the top corner from 20 yards after he had cut inside off the left wing – the distance had grown to 35 yards by the time he got off the phone to his mum – was the best of his career.

The following day, he put pen to paper on a new contract, the second fresh deal put his way in the last 12 months.

Can this indeed be ‘the year’ for Hugill, the time when the fully establishes himself in Simon Grayson’s plans?

Slowly but surely, he has worked himself up the Preston ladder since arriving from Port Vale two summers ago.

Early progress with goals in the League Cup and JPT, stalled after he suffered a knee injury which required surgery and a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

After recovering, Hugill went on loan to Tranmere and then Hartlepool to recapture his match fitness.

Tranmere was not an enjoyable experience, but Hartlepool was, as he scored the goal which kept Pools in the Football League.

Last season, there was a false start when he was sent off at MK Dons within a few minutes of coming on as a substitute.

However, about this time last year, Hugill scored against Bournemouth in the League Cup – an omen for next week perhaps?

That was followed by 28 appearances in the first team, many of them from the bench.

The last seven of those games saw him score three goals – two in the derby wins at Bolton and Blackburn – and against Leeds on the final day.

This season, he has eight appearances to his name and two goals – netting against Oldham in the cup in addition to Tuesday’s strike.

Any North End supporter with an ounce of football romance in them, should be willing Hugill to succeed.

This is not a lad who has been brought up playing on finely-manicured academy pitches since being knee-high to a grasshopper.

His football upbringing was in non-league football in Teesside and on the North Yorkshire coast.

The high point was a spell with the Glenn Hoddle academy in Spain.

Back in England, he damaged his cruciate ligament on his debut for Whitby Town.

During Hugill’s recovery from that injury came his much-talked-about stint pulling pints and mixing cocktails in a Middlesbrough pub – he did that to make ends meet when no money was coming in from football.

These last few weeks, Hugill has jumped up the queue in terms of the Preston strikers.

In pre-season, he potentially had Joe Garner, Jermaine Beckford, together with summer signings Eoin Doyle and Simon Makienok, ahead of him in the pecking order.

Garner has gone to Rangers, Beckford is recovering from a hamstring strain, he is ahead of Makienok, while probably on level pegging with Doyle.

It would be a surprise if he didn’t start the Brentford clash, bearing in mind the midweek goal and his general play in that game.

He also claimed an assist against Cardiff – it was his header from an Anders Lindegaard clearance which set up Callum Robinson.

Hugill is not the finished article by a long chalk but you can see the work in progress.

A good run of games is now what he needs and scoring the in the manner he did the other night won’t have done his chances of that any harm.

The Cardiff win was a timely one to say the least, relations between manager and some fans having become somewhat strained in the aftermath of defeat to Barnsley.

It needed the collection of three points in front of the home faithful, to move on from the fall-out created by Simon Grayson’s ‘fed-up’ comment post-match last Saturday.

Fans had every right to feel annoyed at the remark and for what is it worth – having been stood next to him when he said it – I saw frustration on the manager’s part as the reason behind saying what he did.

It was frustration at seeing points slip away despite a good second-half performance, criticism perhaps taken too much to heart.

Sometimes a spat can clear the air but let’s not make a habit of it.