PNE striker targets Cod Army again

Joe Garner celebrates his first goal in October's 3-2 win over Fleetwood
Joe Garner celebrates his first goal in October's 3-2 win over Fleetwood
  • Garner hit hat-trick against Fleetwood in October
  • Derby will be ‘tough’ says striker
  • PNE boss happy to have hit man back
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Joe Garner has Fleetwood in his sights again as Preston North End look to tighten their grip on an automatic promotion place.

PNE’s leading scorer netted a hat-trick when they beat the Cod Army 3-2 at Deepdale in October.

We beat them 3-2 earlier in the season which was one hell of a game

His treble that day is among 45 goals Garner has scored in a 19-month spell for the Lilywhites.

Sunday afternoon’s visit to Highbury Stadium promises to be a keenly-contested affair.

North End want the points to extend their lead over promotion rivals Swindon and MK Dons, neither of whom are in action this weekend.

Fleetwood, managed by ex-PNE favourite Graham Alexander, are in 10th place and only four points shy of the play-offs.

Garner told the Evening Post: “I’m looking forward to the game – it will be tough, it’s a derby and we have plenty of fans going over there.

“We beat them 3-2 earlier in the season which was one hell of a game.

“At half-time we were 2-0 down but the gaffer changed a few things and we came back strongly to win it.

“I scored a hat-trick in that game, the first two were headers and then the third one I caught well on the volley with my left foot, which was nice.

“Kevin Davies came on at half-time to make a massive difference.

“On Sunday we need to go to their place and show the same fighting spirit all the way through.

“I think that Grezza being their manager – with what he achieved here as a player – puts a bit more emphasis on the game from the supporters’ point of view.

“He has done really well there. Fleetwood got up last year and are now in the top 10.

“They will be looking to get into the play-offs and if they pick up a few results, they could very well achieve that.

“We will be aware of what they can do but our focus is on our ourselves. We know how to win games in this league – away from home we have been as strong as anyone this season.

“Our confidence is high and if we work hard, we are always confident of getting a result.”

Garner’s goal at Barnsley last Saturday was his 21st of the season – 20 league and one in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – and his sixth in the last four games.

The 26-year-old said: “I’m happy with my goal tally at the moment, especially having missed a lot of games when I was injured.

“I could probably have had a few more because I’ve missed a couple of chances, which is a bit annoying.

“To reach 20 goals is always nice and hopefully there will a few more before the end of the season.”

North End manager Simon Grayson has echoed Garner’s comments about the goal 

He thinks you would be hard pressed to find another striker with such a good goals-to-games ratio of late.

Said Grayson: “We kept ticking over when Joe was out injured but you are always going to miss a player of his ability.

“Joe is our talisman. He gets into positions where defenders don’t like to go.

“He scores all types of goals, whether it be outside the box, tap-ins or headers.

“Any centre-half in this division knows they have been in a game when Joe has been up against them.

“He is not the biggest but he roughs one or two people up, plays on the edge and is a good finisher.

“If you look back on the calendar year, his record is second to none.”

l Tickets are now on sale for PNE’s away games at Port Vale and Notts County.

They visit Vale Park on Friday, April 17, then tackle the Magpies on April 21.