Dave Seddon's verdict: Brentford 2 Preston North End 4 - how PNE took just 18 minutes to flip the game on its head
Preston North End have historically had a comeback in them but this one at Brentford in the London rain has to be up there with the best of them.
Just short of 12 months ago, the Lilywhites came from two down to beat Blackburn.
That was that thriller at the Villa when North End trailed 2-0 to Aston Villa, got 3-2 up and it finished 3-3.
For those with slightly longer memories, myself included, a few times PNE roared back from seemingly lost positions to win during John McGrath’s reign in the 1980s.
One of those was against Brentford incidentally on the Deepdale plastic 31 years ago, a 2-0 deficit turning on its head into a 4-2 victory.
We saw the same outcome and scoreline yesterday afternoon at the Bees’ shiny new Brentford Community Stadium.
Until a few weeks ago, this was meant to be the weekend when fans started to make their way back into football grounds.
Unfortunately this fight back had to be done inside an empty ground when it deserved far better than just an iFollow audience.
In normal times, this would an occasion when players and fans saluted one another with joy at full-time.
North End’s battlers had to instead just pat each other on the back, take the praise of Alex Neil in the dressing room and the press conference, and then head home on the train to catch their breath in the international break.
They had been 2-0 at the interval, with the turnabout done in 18 remarkable minutes in the second half.
The half-time scoreline was actually a touch harsh on them, Brentford in no way two goals better than them over the 45 minutes.
But they more a lot more ruthless, Ivan Toney netting twice and showing the type of form for which the Londoners paid out £10m for him.
In that first half North End had plenty of the ball and got it into the final third a few times but without looking particularly threatening.
They bared their teeth in the second half though and pulled their hosts all over the place to flip the contest on its head.
In the space of seven minutes Scott Sinclair found the net twice to drag PNE back into the game and bring them on level pegging.
Brad Potts produced a fine finish to put his side into the lead, with Sean Maguire then on target with the fourth goal to clinch it.
Bar a shot from Jay Dasilva which whistled inches wide, there was little threat of Brentford doing a ‘Preston’ and mounting a comeback of their own.
Their boss Thomas Frank was gracious in defeat, accepting that North End were deserved winners.
Frank seems a very decent type of fella, not fitting the typical look of a football manager – more a look of an art dealer as one of my former colleagues once noted.
He knows his stuff though, and knew his side had been pressed well by PNE, unable to find an answer to that when the visitors found their forward momentum.
For Frank’s opposite number Alex Neil, it was a first league win of the season to savour.
While we are only four Championship games into the season, to have gone to the fortnight’s break without a victory wouldn’t have been the best scenario.
They’ve had their two best performances and results on the road, the 2-2 draw at Norwich a fortnight ago and this one.
Arguably they were the two toughest looking games in a tough set of early fixtures.
The squad and fans had got a nice lift with Thursday’s signing of Emil Riis – for the record he doesn’t tend to use Jakobsen with it being such a common names in Denmark.
Neil could afford to leave him on the bench until the 78th minute, by which time the starting XI had done their job and effectively wrapped the three points up.
Riis put a late chance over the bar as North End chose attack as the best way of defending their lead.
Neil had gone back to using a 4-2-3-1 system yesterday after last week’s use of three at the back against Stoke.
Full-backs Joe Rafferty and Andrew Hughes were recalled and were both play pivotal roles in the first two goals.
Potts came into the side on the right side of the front line, a position up for grabs due to Tom Barkhuizen’s ban.
Preston didn’t make a good start, finding themselves a goal behind inside eight minute.
Dominic Thompson’s pass down the left-wing played in Dasilva behind Rafferty, his low cross travelling perfectly into the path of Toney who tucked a low finish past Declan Rudd from close range.
His second goal came two minutes before the break as Brentford switched play ever so quickly.
Sergi Canos’ cross field ball out of defence found the run of Bryan Mbeumo who controlled it superbly and played in Toney who was ran through to score.
I remarked on Twitter at half-time that PNE had a mountain to climb, fortunately they had their climbing boots on.
Seven minutes into the second half, Rafferty’s cross to the far post was headed back by Patrick Bauer for Sinclair to turn a shot into the net from six yards.
Interesting. It got even more interesting on the hour mark when Hughes whipped possession off Mbeumo and crossed low to find Sinclair at the near post.
Sinclair still had work to do, holding off a defender and beating the keeper low down with a shot from the corner of the six yard box.
Three minutes later, PNE were ahead as they took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Potts got the ball from Ryan Ledson’s pass on the edge of the box, shaped to shoot across goal but instead went for the other side and left keeper Luke Daniels motionless.
The fourth goal in the 70th minute came from a Ledson corner which Ben Davies rose to meet and head down.