Dave Seddon's PNE Pressview: Perhaps Preston did not play to Jayden Stockley's strengths
Jayden Stockley proved to be a striker in demand during the final days of his time as a Preston North End player.
The 27-year-old bid a fond farewell to the Lilywhites on Tuesday when he signed for Charlton Athletic.
He went with the good wishes of most North End supporters who appreciated his hard work during a 30-month stay at Deepdale.
There were welcoming arms for him at The Valley as Charlton turned last season’s loan into a permanent move.
It could so easily have been Portsmouth rolling out the welcome mat, Pompey having thought they had struck a deal to sign him last weekend.
Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Rotherham were also sniffing, Stockley clearly seen as a player who can make things happen in League One.
The 27-year-old chose Charlton and it seems they were in pole position all along courtesy of Stockley having enjoyed being on loan there in the second half of last season.
Firming-up their interest was done a little later in the day than Portsmouth had done but once they made their move official, it was a one-way road to the capital for Stockley,
It’s a good move for him, with a three-year contract and a salary which will be at the better end of the League One pay scale.
He’s returning to a club where he scored eight goals as a loan player, where he was a popular figure in the dressing room.
To be fair, Stockley would be popular wherever he went. As friendly a bloke as you could care to meet, with a great sense of humour is how I found him.
Stockley will be hoping by joining the Addicks, his drop down to League One will only be a relatively short stay.
They missed out on the play-offs on goal difference in May, so there will be a determination to push on from that near-miss and be in the top six.
Charlton have a bit of a budget to play with if you consider they were able to pay a decent-sized fee for Stockley.
The word in Portsmouth was Pompey had put in place a deal worth £450,000.
In this era of undisclosed fees, we must accept that figure would have been in the right ballpark.
Charlton would either have matched that or bettered it slightly to give PNE’s bank balance a bit of a boost.
Speak with North End fans about Stockley and you get a bit of a mixed view about what he offered.
Universal opinion was that he gave every last drop of effort and was always a handful to play against.
Some supporters felt the Championship week in, week out, was maybe too much for Stockley.
Others take the view he didn’t get enough of a chance at Deepdale and maybe the truth is somewhere in between.
It’s right that North End didn’t particularly play to Stockley’s strengths.
He arrived in January 2019 from Exeter full of goals and having scored plenty of those with his head.
How often in games did PNE have him facing forward to meet crosses being put in from the wings?
All too often Stockley was played as a targetman with his job to bring others into the game.
It was actually such a role which saw him produce one of his best performances in a Preston shirt.
Blackburn were winning 2-0 at Deepdale in October 2019 when Stockley was summoned from the bench with just half an hour played.
For the next hour Stockley hustled, harried, bumped and battered the Rovers defence into submission. PNE won 3-2.
The following Sunday he was given line-leading duties at Charlton of all places and won the penalty which Paul Gallagher scored to send North End top of the table for 28 hours.
Stockley started four of the five games after that but then had to wait until the restart period in late June for his next start.
The fact he came off the bench twice as many times as he started in the league for PNE pointed to Alex Neil not having complete faith in him.
Stockley went on loan to Charlton two months before Neil was sacked.
How he would have worked in Frankie McAvoy’s two-man attack is an interesting thought but hypothetical now.
Stockley leaving creates a space in the squad which is a factor for those planning the ins and outs at Deepdale to consider.
North End need another striker, they need goals, and now there’s a vacancy or two along that front line.
Stockley managed nine goals in his Preston stay and some of them were pretty memorable.
His first in the 4-1 win at Queens Park Rangers a couple of weeks after signing was steered home from the edge of the box with pace and accuracy.
Next came a late winner on a Wednesday night at Middlesbrough.
Stockley came off the bench to win the game against Luton in December 2019,
In July last year he netted in successive games, firstly as a sub in the 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday – all three scorers that night had joined the action from the bench. When he started
the next game against Nottingham Forest, Stockley scored. Despite two in two, he was back on the bench for the next game at Brentford.
His best Preston goal he saved for last, a 35-yard volley against Birmingham City last October.
In the league he started only two games after that, Stockley’s last time in a PNE kit being the 4-1 FA Cup loss at Wycombe in January.
I think Stockley will do well at Charlton, double figures of goals has to be his aim there.
After putting pen to paper on the deal, he spoke about the next three years needing to be the best of his career.
Stockley can look back on his time at PNE with some satisfaction – the fact he played and scored goals in the Championship – but also with a sense that it didn’t quite work how he wanted.
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