Never mind 5-1, it could have been eight: Preston supporter John Roper revels in big win over Barnsley

Sean Maguire attempts to hook the ball back into play against Barnsley
Sean Maguire attempts to hook the ball back into play against Barnsley

A second half onslaught saw North End take all three points and move up to third in the Championship with a 5-1 win over Barnsley at Deepdale.

It was by no means a flattering scoreline and if the game had finished 8-1 the Tykes could have few complaints as North End went nap after the break.

Two goals from man-of-the-match Daniel Johnson and one apiece for Tom Barkhuizen, Ben Pearson and Josh Harrop saw North End romp home after being held 1-1 at the break via a McGeehan equaliser.

Barnsley never really looked like they were going to make any impact in the game as North End’s fast attacking movement saw the visitors’ defence stretched time after time as North End piled on the agony with three goals in 15 minutes early in the second half.

The only disappointing aspect for me was the fact that only 11,092 home fans attended to watch a team that were in the top six before the start of Saturday’s fixtures.

Alex Neil made two changes to the side that drew at Middlesbrough in midweek with Paul Gallagher and David Nugent coming in for the suspended Darnell Fisher and Josh Harrop, with Nugent making his full debut for North End the second time around.

It was cagey and a little scrappy early on but North End got on top and almost took the lead when a Maguire shot was saved by Collins in the Barnsley goal who then saved brilliantly with his legs, again from the Irishman.

North End took the lead just after the half hour when Barkhuizen was put through by Nugent in the inside right position only to see his shot saved by Collins but fortunately the ball went in the air and Johnson headed home into the top corner with a looping header.

However, we couldn’t hold on to the lead until the break and McGeehan fired home after a corner from the left had been put back across the North End goal from beyond the righthand upright.

The crowd were a little quiet during the break wondering how Barnsley were level but North End came out in the second half and ripped the visiting defence to pieces.

Just five minutes into the second period Johnson went down the left hand side and put Barkhuizen through on goal and he made no mistake slotting the ball past the advancing Collins.

It wasn’t much longer before North End made it 3-1 and this time Gally put a lovely ball through the middle for Johnson to run on to and the current darling of the Deepdale faithful made no mistake firing past the keeper.

The biggest roar of the day was for goal No.4as Barkhuizen picked the ball up on the half way line of the Preston left and thundered towards goal before playing a ball to the back post where Pearson just managed to make contact and score.

There was still enough time for substitute Josh Harrop to get on the score sheet after a series of errors in the Barnsley defence saw the ball bobble to Harrop who lobbed it over the advancing keeper before guiding the ball into the net.

It has to be said that Barnsley were probably the worst team to visit Deepdale this season but nothing should be taken away from this performance from North End particularly in the second half.

With both regular full backs missing, I thought Alan Browne and Joe Rafferty did a good job on the Barnsley wide men and in fact it was really an all round team perfomance although Johnson will obviously get all the accolades and deservedly so.

For once I don’t think North End will want the international break to come as we are now eight games unbeaten and have taken 11 points from the five league games since the last break, which is very good going.

The boys can get a little well earned rest now, apart from Alan Browne and Sean Maguire who will be joining the Ireland squad, and look forward to some cracking games coming up including a double header at Deepdale against fifth-placed Leeds United and derby rivals Blackburn Rovers.

Two games that should surely whet the appetite of all North End supporters.