Dave Seddon's verdict: Bournemouth 1 Preston North End 2 - Victory for PNE when the odds were stacked against them
There’s something which is so appealing to Preston North End about a night visit to Bournemouth.
For the second year on the bounce, the EFL fixture computer sent the Lilywhites on their longest trip of the season in midweek.
Like they did 11 months ago, North End found the south coast to their liking and gathered three points.
Remember that they won at the Vitality Stadium too in the League Cup in 2016, that also a midweek contest.
Few had given them a prayer of getting something from Wednesday’s visit, taking into account Bournemouth hadn’t been beaten in league action this season.
What also had to be taken into account was that PNE had yet to win away in Championship action.
The odds were stacked against them but a disciplined display was to see them pull off the shock result of the night.
North End turned the first half into a non-event almost, sitting in their shape behind the ball to frustrate their hosts. It was to stop Scott Parker’s talented side playing through them, something they had done to plenty of other teams.
The plan was to force them wide and defend what came from there.
As confidence grew from doing that well, the visitors started to venture forward and that was to bring the reward of goals from midfielders Ben Whiteman and Ali McCann, either side of a Philip Billing equaliser.
Watching it all unfold from the away end were 307 PNE fans whose journey was rewarded by three points.
Some of them enjoyed it so much they tried to join the players on the pitch to celebrate the goals.
There have been a few tough days for the faithful this season but this was certainly a night to remember for them.
This was very much a team effort from PNE, results like this don’t get achieved unless the majority are on song.
Some stood out a bit more than others, the two scorers together with Daniel Iversen the headline makers.
Whiteman’s goal was his fifth of the season, this a first in a Preston shirt for McCann.
In the other box, Iversen stood firm when the defence got punctured, the second part of a double save which denied Jamal Lowe a late equaliser just superb instinct.
A mention too for Patrick Bauer who I thought was the man of the match.
On the ground where his ruptured an Achilles tendon last December, the German didn’t put a foot wrong.
He was up against Dominic Solanke who had bagged 11 goals in the league, yet the Cherries striker didn’t get any change from Bauer.
McAvoy’s 3-5-2 formation hasn’t won too many friends of late but it did the job here.
It became more 5-3-2, the wing-backs to start with staying deep.
Whiteman, McCann and Ali McCann formed a three in front of them.
‘Stubborn’ was the word which suited and booted Bournemouth boss Parker used to describe the system his side came up against.
For all their possession in the opening half hour, there was no way through for them.
In fact going into the interval, a couple of chances had fallen PNE’s way as the tide begin to turn.
They took the lead in the 52nd minute, Sean Maguire feeding a pass out to Tom Barkhuizen on the right-wing.
His first-time cross was hit low, Emil Riis dummied at the near post, the ball running into the path of Whiteman who dispatched a shot into the top corner.
When Billing equalised after an hour, the ball falling to him when Andrew Hughes slipped as he cleared, the fear was that was PNE’s chance of a win gone – a point would have to suffice.
That wasn’t the case, their winner coming in the 78th minute as Riis chased a ball down the left channel.
He got to the byline just inside the box and pulled it back low into the middle. His pass found the run of McCann who steered a left-foot finish into the far corner.
Iversen’s double save to parry a Jack Stacey shot and then Lowe’s follow-up came four minutes from time.
Six additional minutes were played, PNE holding out for a big win.
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