PNE keeper Maxwell praises team efforts
There is a sense of pride from Chris Maxwell about the defensive record which Preston take into their clash with Hull City at the KCOM Stadium.
North End boast the joint-meanest defence in the EFL, shipping only three goals in nine league games.
Graham Alexander’s Scunthorpe in League One share that statistic.
The latest clean sheet for Maxwell came in Saturday’s goalless draw with Millwall, a result which was tinged with a feeling of disappointment by reason of the Lilywhites not being able to breach a stubborn visiting defence.
Alex Neil’s outfit were equally as strong at the other end, Maxwell having just one shot to save in 90 minutes.
“We are very proud of our defensive record and we have worked very hard for it,” said Maxwell.
“It is a whole-team thing, we press from the front and work exceptionally hard across the whole pitch.
“This is something which the manager is desperate for us to maintain.
“We are well organised and communicate as a team.
“If we can keep a clean sheet it gives us a platform to go and win the game.
“If that doesn’t quite happen like against Millwall, the least you get is a 0-0 draw.
“It is a real pleasure to play in this team and we all want to be successful.”
The defensive record shows that reputation and big names are not what it is all about. The four defenders in front of Maxwell on Saturday were Darnell Fisher, skipper Paul Huntington, Ben Davies and Josh Earl.
Bear in mind Fisher came from a Rotherham side who shipped 98 league goals last season, while Davies was out on loan at Fleetwood for the second half of last term.
Earl only made his debut five weeks ago, Huntington very much the main man in terms of experience and appearances.
“We have gelled together quickly,” said Maxwell.
“We had not played much as a group before pre-season.
“You look at Saturday’s back four and consider that Tommy Spurr has also played a big part.
“Greg Cunningham was in at the start before his injury, while Calum Woods came in against Birmingham.
“So we’ve got strength in numbers and we all want to do a job there.
“How we defend is very simple, it’s black and white really. As a team we want to get the ball back as quickly as possible when we lose it.
“We keep a high line and need to because teams at this level have the ability to play round you otherwise.”
North End head across the M62 to Hull on the back of a six-game unbeaten run.
Although the Tigers have had an indifferent start to life back in the Championship, Maxwell knows they are not a side to be taken lightly.
The keeper said: “Hull will be tough opposition.
“They are just down from the Premier League and so are still carrying quality in their squad.
“It is always tough when you play Saturday-Tuesday but we have recovered well and are ready to go again.
“There is no reason why we can’t go there and get the three points.
“We are going pretty well, results and performances have shown that.
“As a team perhaps we are being given more respect and that is something we have to get used to.
“We might have been a bit disappointed with drawing on Saturday, but no point in this division is easily earned.”
Maxwell has been PNE’s first-choice goalkeeper for 12 months now.
His first Championship game came against Wigan on September 23 last year and he has not missed a league game since.
The Millwall match was his 51st for North End and he is looking to push on this season.
“This past year has been fantastic and thanks to everyone for their support,” said Maxwell.
“I want to make sure I play another 50 games and that we can achieve something in that time.
“In life you have to make every day a learning curve, whatever job you do.
“I try and take as much as possible from every game and session.
“While with Preston, I have worked with different staff and players and taken something new from them all, both as a player and as a person.”
Maxwell started working recently with North End’s new keeper coach Dean Kiely, and first impressions are good.
The 27-year-old said: “It’s been brilliant and a very fluid transition.
“Dean has a vast amount of experience in football and has done what I want to do.
“He came through the leagues and got promoted to the Premier League.
“That is what I want to emulate – I’ve come through the leagues and got to the Championship.
“I want to get promoted with Preston.”