Exclusive Tom Barkhuizen PNE column

It has been a pretty good week for me with two starts and two goals '“ yes, the results could have been better but from a personal view point, I enjoyed it.

Thursday, 9th March 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:44 am
Scoring against Derby at Pride Park on Tuesday night

Against Fulham I got my first start for Preston and found the net in the second half, then I scored at Derby in stoppage time.

To score so late to earn a draw was a nice feeling.

In the closing stages of the game I had been pushed up front and told to gamble on flick-ons, get right on the shoulder of the last defender.

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For the last five minutes or so, we went a bit ‘route one’ to try and force something.

Simon Makienok did well, the big man got on the end of a ball forward and I gambled on chasing it. I just got my toe to it and to be honest, I didn’t think I had got enough on it.

But it went over the keeper and the ball thankfully skipped off the pitch and into the bottom corner.

The keeper caught me as I lifted the ball over him and the referee told Tom Clarke that he would have given a penalty had it not gone in.

It is easy to say that after the event – whether he would have done, I don’t know.

The main thing was that the ball went in and we came home with a point.

In terms of a celebration, I didn’t really know what to do with it being so late.

The Preston fans were at the other end of the ground so I couldn’t go running off towards them.

After I scored, I asked the referee how long was left and he told me 30 seconds.

I’ll work on a celebration and hopefully there are more goals to come from me.

It would be nice to score a winner, my first two being a consolation goal, as it turned out, and an equaliser.

After the Fulham game last Saturday, I felt really tired – I seemed to hit the wall after 70 minutes before getting going again.

Over the weekend I looked after myself and felt really good at Derby.

What helped me to keep going right to the end and get the goal was being moved up front.

Had I been out on the wing and having to track back, I might not quite have had the same energy.

We now turn our focus to playing Reading at Deepdale this weekend.

A while ago, we identified this week as being a big one for us – Fulham, Derby and Reading in seven days.

Fulham were the best team I have seen in my time at Preston, while Derby should be higher up, bearing in mind the players and the budget they have got.

Reading are a really good team too, so the week will have been a big test.

It doesn’t matter who you play – three games a week in the Championship is pretty relentless.

We’ll go into the Reading game with confidence from the equaliser at Derby and hopefully this time we can get three points.

The Derby game saw Andy Boyle make his debut and you would have thought he had played all season from how he did.

I didn’t think he put a foot wrong all night and Andy was probably our best player.

He’s had to be patient in the last few weeks, a bit like I had to be when I signed.

We all knew he would fit in nicely after seeing him in training and it was just a matter of when he would get his chance.

In terms of myself settling in here and playing in the Championship, the four or five substitute appearances I made helped me.

Had I started games straight away, it might have been more difficult.

I was coming on for 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there, often when the game was getting stretched which opened up some space to play in.

That gave me confidence, which is what every player wants.

It is one thing saying that I felt I could play at this level but another thing doing it. Those sub appearances gave me a taste of what it was all about.

I was 19 or 20 the last time I played at Championship level and didn’t have much experience.

I’m 23 now, not a young kid, and so I’m expected to influence a game.

As well as those games when I came off the bench, the extra fitness work I did when I first arrived has stood me in good stead.

I couldn’t play until the January window opened so I would do 20 minutes extra running after training to keep topped up.

A big thing I’ve found at Preston is the spirit among the lads and that has helped me settle quickly.

It is a tight dressing room, everyone is together and you can see that when we score, because no one runs off on their own – we all celebrate together.