PNE teenager cannot wait for play-offs

Scott Laird, Joe Garner and Josh Brownhill with their player of the year awards
Scott Laird, Joe Garner and Josh Brownhill with their player of the year awards
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Triple award winner Josh Brownhill says he is feeling ‘nervous and excited’ about Preston North End’s play-off campaign.

The 18-year-old hopes to force his way back into contention for the first-leg clash with Rotherham on Saturday after being left out of the matchday squad for the final two games of the regular season.

Featuring in what can hopefully be a successful campaign would round off a fine few months for Brownhill.

His senior debut only came in October but since then he has made 29 appearances and earned himself a big number of plaudits.

The midfielder left Sunday’s Player of the Year awards clutching three trophies – young player of the year, scholar of the year and goal of the season – fans voting his fine strike at Carlisle on Boxing Day as their favourite.

Brownhill told the Evening Post: “I’m quite nervous about the 
play-offs but excited too.

“I am confident that we can produce a good performance because we have done well this season and been consistent.

“The points which we finished with would have got us promoted last year, this time it has got us into the play-offs.

“We will be working very hard on Saturday to try and make sure we have an advantage to take into the second leg at Rotherham next Thursday.”

Brownhill was delighted to pick up the three awards at the Player of the Year night, this season having gone far better than he could ever have imagined.

Last July when he reported back for training as a second-year scholar, he could not have imagined the season which lay ahead for him.

Said Brownhill: “I set myself last summer to try and be in or around the first-team squad by the end of the season.

“Hopefully I would have been in contention for the scholar of the year award but I could not have imagined being voted young player of the year or winning goal of the season.

“It’s been a tough season for me in adjusting to the tempo of the first team and the physical demands of it.

“But I think that I have adapted well and I’m working hard to keep improving.

“Things have happened quite quickly but I was determined to take my chance when it came along.

“My full debut at Gillingham in October was an amazing feeling.

“My family weren’t sure if to travel such a long way because they didn’t know if I would be playing.

“Thankfully they made the journey, I started the game and scored my first goal.

“As a person I have matured in the last few months.

“The coaching staff, my family, the players and my friends – especially the ones in the youth team – have helped me keep my feet on the ground.

“I’ve been in digs with the other youth team lads for two years now – they are great friends.”

Carrying off the goal of the season gong was a big honour for Brownhill.

A move from one end of the pitch involving all 10 outfield players was finished with a curling shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

“What made it special was all the lads having a hand in the goal,” said Brownhill.

“When the ball came to me it was under my feet and I had to dig it out a bit, adjust myself to get a chance to shoot.

“I was pleased to see it go in and it won us the game.

“There have been a lot of good goals scored by the lads this season, so for the fans to have voted for mine was very special.”

Meanwhile, ticket sales have been brisk for Saturday’s home leg, with demand especially high for the Invincibles Pavilion and Town End.

The ticket office is open to 9pm today, with ambassadors and season ticket holders having until then to reserve their usual seat.

But PNE say the quickest and easiest way to buy tickets is online. Their 1,210 allocation for the away leg sold out in six hours on Monday.