PNE 3-2 Blackburn: Five things we learned
Reporter Adam Lord takes a look at North End's derby win in front of the Sky cameras on Saturday night.
Daniel Johnson still a real attacking weapon
Simon Grayson wanted to see his Jamaican midfielder further up the pitch and he got his wish on Saturday evening. Playing in a central midfield two Johnson might have been more restricted but he chipped in with two goals and picked up the man of the match award. Known as a goal-scoring midfielder, the former Aston Villa man only had one this season before Saturday’s derby but found his form in front of goal again in style. His first was a trademark sweet strike from 20 yards with the second coming from the penalty spot, Johnson proving to be the calmest man in Deepdale. It wasn’t all plane sailing, DJ also conceding a penalty with a clumsy challenge but it was still his best 90 minutes for some time. With the celebration for his first goal revealing he is set to be a dad, it seems fatherhood might suit him.
Makienok an asset at both ends of the field
While Johnson and Callum Robinson took more obvious plaudits, Simon Makienok had a good game on his return to the PNE side. It wasn’t a flashy performance from the Great Dane but you know what you’re going to get from North End’s giant front man. He led the line well, outshining Jordan Hugill, and when the hosts were under pressure in the second half Makienok proved what he offered from a defensive standpoint as well. Could have had a goal for his efforts too, Darragh Lenihan’s arm preventing him from getting a clean header in, leading to Johnson’s penalty.
PNE can get a penalty after all
The sight of Kevin Friend pointing to the spot surprised many in Deepdale for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many hadn’t spotted the infringement from Lenihan, with plenty of credit since given to the Premier League official who dropped down for this Lancashire derby. Secondly, PNE fans must have been wondering when they were going to get a penalty. Several big claims have come and gone this season with the wait going on and on for a spot kick. Most notable was the home defeat to Newcastle, Jermaine Beckford getting “kicked in the backside” as Simon Grayson put it in the final moments of the 2-1 reverse. But Saturday was PNE’s day and although it wasn’t clear who was going to take it at first, Johnson didn’t need a second invitation.
First goal vital for Preston
It’s an old football cliche but the first goal is big in any game. It appears however that it’s certainly the case for North End who on Saturday kept up their record of not losing once going in front. This was far from a straightforward evening in front of the TV cameras though, Grayson’s side having to take the lead three times before sealing three derby points. Having been pegged back twice by the impressive Danny Graham, Rovers enjoying plenty of possession and territory in the second half, it was great to see the Lilywhites have the resolve to go again for a third time. Greg Cunningham deserves plenty of credit for the winner, his excellent play down the left teeing up Callum Robinson for the winner.
Derbies don’t have to be all blood and guts
Plenty of meetings between local rivals get bogged down in crunching tackles and refereeing decisions but this Lancashire derby thankfully didn’t and was a treat for anyone at Deepdale or watching from home. Both sides went for the three points from the off, the game going back and forth before PNE took the spoils. Five goals, two penalties and three points for Preston. What more could you ask for?