PNE’s Sam wants to keep it clean

Preston keeper Sam Johnstone wants a return to keeping 'clean sheets
Preston keeper Sam Johnstone wants a return to keeping 'clean sheets
  • Johnstone’s long run without conceding ended in midweek
  • Regular run of games will help Sam
  • Keeper is ‘learning all the time’
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Keeper Sam Johnstone is aiming for Preston North End to return to their squeaky-clean best in the weekend’s promotion battle with MK Dons.

The Lilywhites shot-stopper went 533 minutes without conceding a league goal before Doncaster’s equaliser in midweek at Deepdale.

Donny’s two goals were scored by lads who I played with for Doncaster on loan earlier in the season

He was beaten again shortly after but Jermaine Beckford struck late in stoppage time to salvage a 2-2 draw.

Before Tuesday night, Johnstone had last picked the ball out of the net in League One action against Crawley on January 31.

Now the local lad hopes to go on another run of shut-outs, starting at stadium:mk.

Johnstone told the Evening Post: “It was frustrating to concede the two goals – as a keeper you pride yourself on clean sheets.

“Even more frustrating was that the two goals were scored by lads who I played with for Doncaster on loan earlier in the season.

“We took a lot of pressure throughout the game and the later it got, I thought we might manage to hold out at one-nil.

“The first goal came from the edge of the box through a lot of players.

“He scuffed it into the side of the goal and that was frustrating. The second was a good header from Curtis Main – he is strong in the air and the header was just out of my reach.

“Thankfully we got the equaliser through Jermaine Beckford. That was a fantastic strike, which I have seen him do in training a few times.

“Now we have MK Dons away on Saturday, which all the lads are looking forward to.

“We will go there looking to win and we’ll have to be at our best if we are going to do that. It would be nice to get back to keeping clean sheets, although we would take a win by any score.”

The midweek draw was the ninth in the Preston keeper’s jersey for Johnstone.

As he was cup-tied for the FA Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, the 21-year-old was in and out of the team.

But he is getting more of a run now, with the visit to MK Dons set to be his fifth game in a row between the sticks.

“I’m getting a run of games now after the chopping and changing when I first came,” said Johnstone, who is on loan from Manchester United.

“It helps both me and the lads in front that I’m getting matches.

“As far as being at the club is concerned, I felt settled right from the start because the other lads were welcoming.

“Every game I play gives me more experience. I learn from what happens in different situations and from talking to the coach afterwards.”

The MK Dons clash will be a third-versus-second affair, PNE having gone above Saturday’s hosts in midweek.

Tickets will go on sale next week for the derby with Fleetwood Town on Sunday, March 29, with PNE allocated just 1,200.

On Monday, tickets are on sale to ambassadors who have bought three or more different away-fixture tickets from the club’s office.

Any remaining tickets will go on sale to ambassadors on Tuesday.

In the unlikely event of any of the allocation being unsold, tickets will be released for sale to season ticket holders who are not ambassadors on Wednesday.

Terrace prices are £20 for adults, £15 for Over-65s and Under-18s, £12 for Under-16s.

Seats cost £22, £17 and £14, with Under-5s free for both seats and the terrace.