Kilkenny salutes midfield partners

Alan Browne focuses on the ball in Preston's 2-0 win over Crawley
Alan Browne focuses on the ball in Preston's 2-0 win over Crawley
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A slightly more rigid and disciplined performance in midfield played a part in Preston North End’s return to winning ways, according to Neil Kilkenny.

The Lilywhites’ 2-0 victory over Crawley at the weekend was their first in the league for a month.

It was certainly a welcome one, coming at the end of a week in which they had lost at Walsall and folded against Chesterfield.

Kilkenny formed part of the midfield trio – together with Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill – which featured in both the Chesterfield and Crawley games.

How they operated changed slightly between those matches, which was of great benefit in Kilkenny’s eyes.

“Alan and Josh are very good footballers and it is good to play in midfield with them,” said Kilkenny.

“Sometimes it is hard to get a grip of them because they have so much energy.

“On Saturday I had Browney playing beside me, which I preferred.

“Rather than having the pair of them in front of me, Browney was next to me and Josh pushed up behind the front man, which suited us.

“Browney has got the legs to go forward when necessary but defensively it was good to know that he was next to me.

“When he and Josh both play in front of me, they are eager to push up and sometimes it just needs one of them to stay back.

“I thought the whole of the midfield and forward line linked up well against Crawley.

“Paul Gallagher is a good footballer and we combined well. It was a win which we really needed after what had happened in the previous two matches.

“Chesterfield felt more like a defeat than a draw after we had been 3-0 up.

“That was a doubly disappointing night because I got taken off and I wanted to stay on.”

Kilkenny, Brownhill and Browne have been the preferred three in midfield so far this season.

PNE boss Simon Grayson has, in the main, opted to go with formations which use three in midfield.

Browne, 19, has featured in all 11 league and cup games to date, starting nine of them.

Grayson has used 18-year-old Brownhill on 10 occasions – nine of those being starts.

Kilkenny has made nine appearances, all of them having been in the starting XI.

All three have been on the scoresheet the once, Kilkenny netting at Rochdale in the Capital One Cup.

Browne and Brownhill both opened their accounts for the campaign in the Chesterfield game, Brownhill having been prolific in pre-season.

Jack King and club captain John Welsh are the others to be have been used in the centre of midfield this term.

Welsh is due back from a calf strain for the weekend visit to Coventry City.

North End have a clear midweek in the build-up to the Ricoh Arena clash.

That will give Grayson some valuable time on the Springfields training pitch with the squad as they look to properly click into gear.

Weekend hosts Coventry have suffered back-to-back defeats, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Rochdale at Spotland coming on the tail of losing 2-1 at Scunthorpe last Tuesday.