Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Following the bright start Preston had made to the season, you might have expected Barnsley at home to be a nailed-on win.

Preston left-back Josh Earl challenges with Adam Hammill
Preston left-back Josh Earl challenges with Adam Hammill

But English football does not always work like that and they had to make do with a point from a 1-1 draw.

The fixtures in August had looked tough, so every credit for North End coming out with eight points from the first five games.

Probably for the first time this season, the expectancy was on them to win when they faced Barnsley.

Things started well enough with Sean Maguire’s goal but they were quickly pegged back by the visitors’ equaliser.

I suppose every point is hard-earned in this division so Alex Neil will take it and move on to the next game.

It was good to see Maguire get on the scoresheet, like any striker the lad will have been desperate to get off the mark for his new club.

He had been playing with plenty of confidence and just needed a goal to top things off.

North End have put a lot of faith in the Irish market these last few months as they have looked to buy on a budget.

If Maguire can get himself on a scoring run, they will have a real bargain on their hands.

It might be that he can develop a good partnership with Jordan Hugill, a big man/little man pairing.

Maguire played off Hugill for the first 70 minutes on Saturday and that is one to keep an eye on.

Preston now move on to play Cardiff City on Tuesday night at Deepdale.

The Bluebirds are going great guns this season under ‘Mr Marmite’ himself Neil Warnock.

Whatever you say about Warnock, he gets results for his teams.

A couple of years ago he rescued Rotherham United from being relegated and is now turning the fortunes of Cardiff around.

They were drifting along going nowhere when he took over and now Warnock has got them top of the table with five wins and a draw from the first six games.

I quite like the guy, he says it how he sees it – I know lads who have played under him and they loved Warnock.

As a player when I played against his sides, I didn’t have much time for him.

But when you take a step back, you have to applaud what he has done.

Although Cardiff arrive at Deepdale as leaders, North End should not fear them.

They are at home and Neil has got them playing with plenty of confidence – when you go to Middlesbrough and deserved to come back with a win. as Preston did before the international break, 
they are heading in the right direction.

Finishing off, I think the decision of the Premier League to have an earlier close of the transfer window next summer is sensible.

The Football League are to debate a similar move later this month and it will be very interesting to see if they go down the same route.

I’ve always been of the view that either you shut the window before the season or go back to the old system of having it open until March.