PNE ace targets top-six finish

Paul Gallagher says the play-offs remain a realistic aim for Preston North End with the season now down to single figures of games remaining.
Zach Clough of Bolton battles with Preston North End ace Paul GallagherZach Clough of Bolton battles with Preston North End ace Paul Gallagher
Zach Clough of Bolton battles with Preston North End ace Paul Gallagher

The Lilywhites did not lose much ground on the top six during the recent run of two defeats and a draw.

Saturday’s return to winning ways against Bolton kept them very much in touch, with midfielder Gallagher optimistic about the final run-in.

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Gallagher said: “I have been here before – when I was at Leicester we put runs together at the end of the season and sneaked in the back door. People are not expecting us to be there but we will take it game by game and see what happens.

“If we give ourselves half a chance of getting in the top six, we will try and take it.

“We are not giving anything up, you saw at Bolton that the manager had to put in a few lads who hadn’t played a lot of football recently, yet they were a credit to themselves and the club.

“This is a tough division and there is something on every game.

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“Clubs are either fighting for their lives, like Bolton were on Saturday, or they are aiming to get promoted.

“We don’t want to go into the last five or six games of the season with nothing to play for.

“Our aim is to get as high in the table as possible.

“If someone had offered us this position at the start of the season, we would have snatched their hand off.

“Coming up from League One, this season was meant to be just about staying in the division and being tough to play against.

“We have gone into every game believing we can win it.

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“At 1-0 down against Bolton, we didn’t give up, we showed a hunger and desire in the second half to go on and win the game.

“ In the second half there was only going to be one winner, we put so much energy into the game and were running past them.

“We were looking to spread the ball to Callum Robinson and Adam Reach out 

“When the ball came out of the Bolton box, we were quickly recycling it and putting it back in.

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“It was important to come back with three points and to be able to share the moment with 4,500 of our fans in the away end was special.”

The play-offs still being within reach is the reason Gallagher has postponed surgery to repair a hernia.

He had been due to go under the knife last Wednesday but the operation is now on hold.

Said Gallagher: “If I’d had the operation, I would have missed the Bolton and QPR games, possibly being back for the Blackburn match after the international break.

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“The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and hopefully I’m showing that back with my performances.

“It is tough playing with the injury but I roll my sleeves up and get on with it.

“We are within seven points of the play-offs and I want to continue playing.

“If a time comes when it is mathematically impossible to get in the play-offs, that would be when I’d sit down with the manager and see what we do.

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“I just love playing football – I feel proud every time I pull the Preston jersey on.”

The 2-1 win at Bolton saw Gallagher and his team-mates fight back from being behind.

Jordan Hugill and Eoin Doyle scored in the second half to give PNE their first win over Wanderers since 1992.

It was the first time North End had won an away league game after being behind since they did so at Wycombe in September, 2011.

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Gallagher said: “Being able to comeback from a goal down is something to have in your locker because the first goal in a game can often be so crucial.

“The goal we conceded was disappointing – you cannot give people that much time on the edge of the box.

“Their lad probably had 10 seconds to get the ball under control and pick his spot.

“Coming back to win breeds confidence and hopefully it can benefit us.

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Meanwhile, North End are down to the last 1,500 tickets of their 7,000 allocation for the derby clash with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on April 2 (12.30pm kick-off).

Tickets cost £27 adults, £17 seniors and Under-22s, and £9 Under-18s.

Coach travel is also available, priced £10.