Horgan hoping first Deepdale goal is just start

Daryl Horgan celebrates his sweet strike against Brentford on Saturday
Daryl Horgan celebrates his sweet strike against Brentford on Saturday
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Daryl Horgan knows the hard work is only just beginning after scoring his first Preston North End goal.

The Irishman, a January arrival from Dundalk, was on target in the fine 4-2 win over Brentford on Saturday as fellow countryman Aiden McGeady grabbed the headlines.

Despite opening his Lilywhites account with a fine run and finish after taking Ben Pearson’s pass 13 minutes from time, Horgan is well aware keeping his place out wide is far from a given.

“I’m trying to nail down a position but it’s not going to be easy,” said the 24-year-old, who has made five appearances thus far.

“There’s a lot of quality throughout and it’s great having the strength in depth that we do have.

“Someone can always come in and do a job and even improve the team in certain aspects.

“You need that pressure to keep going though.

“Everyone knows if you take your foot off the gas that you won’t be in the team the following weekend.

“It keeps everyone right at it and that can only be good in the long run.

“We’ll need it for the push for the play-offs later in the season.”

The top-six bid was kickstarted with the impressive Brentford victory, Simon Grayson’s side turning it on in the second half to run out convincing winners.

PNE fans will hope Horgan’s goal is a sign of things to come, the winger having scored 10 times for Dundalk in 2016 in both the League of Ireland, as his side won a third straight title, and 
Europa League.

It was a fine finish, North End’s No.7 taking the ball just past the centre circle and holding off Tom Field before beating Dan Bentley with a sweetly-struck low finish.

“It kind of opened up for me,” said Horgan, who scored against Zenit St Petersburg out in Russia during Dundalk’s remarkable year.

“Ben played a lovely pass and there was just a bit of space so I carried on and fortunately it ended up in the back of the net so there are no complaints.

“I can’t say it was that well thought out, it was mostly instinct. There was a bit of space so I just hit it.

“It’s always good to get off the mark but more importantly it was a great three points.

“It stopped a small bit of a slide and might give us a bit of momentum going into the rest of the week.”

On another day, the latest bright display from Horgan would have hogged more of the limelight but McGeady’s two goals, and an assist for Callum Robinson, meant he was the man of the moment.

“They were two brilliant goals, left and right foot,” said Horgan, who has been in a Republic of Ireland squad with the Everton loanee.

“Especially the second one, it was something special with great little touches and then a curler.

“Not many players have that kind of ability but Aiden does and fortunately he’s playing for us. He’s probably not a Championship player if we’re being honest.

“He’s got unbelievable ability it just hasn’t worked out for him at Everton 
unfortunately.”

Birmingham are the visitors to Deepdale on Tuesday night, with Horgan knowing that there can be no let-up from the weekend if the Lilywhites are serious about reaching the play-offs.

Grayson’s men won for 
the first time in five 
Championship games against Brentford meaning they are currently 11th and seven points behind 
Sheffield Wednesday in sixth.

“They’re all important now at this stage,” he said.

“It’s very, very tight from 11th, 12th, up to sixth.

“There’s not much in it and there’s very little margin for error.

“We’ll have to be going all out to get three points.

“We need to play as well as we possibly can and if we play as well as we did against Brentford I’d be confident of us getting three points.”

On paper, North End go into the game as big favourites.

The Blues may only be one place behind PNE in the table but are five points back, having won just once since Gianfranco Zola surprisingly replaced Gary Rowett back in December.

Horgan is ready for a tough test though as 
Birmingham find their feet under the Italian.

“It will be a tough game,” said Horgan.

“Birmingham haven’t had a great run since Zola’s come in but they’re playing well without winning, if that makes sense.

“They’re a good side with a lot of quality throughout.

“They’re playing an open, more expansive game and it’s not easy to change the way the club’s been playing.

“Just hopefully it doesn’t click for them tomorrow.

“We’re playing good stuff and hopefully we can pick up another good result.”