Hull City 0 Preston North End 1 Dave Seddon's verdict: The Lilywhites hit their highest Championship spot for a year

Twelve months ago Preston North End climbed into 10th place in the Championship and haven’t hit such dizzy heights since.

By Dave Seddon
Sunday, 6th February 2022, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 6th February 2022, 10:12 am

The lofty position was held for just 19 hours having played and won on a Friday night at Blackburn.

Back to the present and the Lilywhites are now up to a season’s best 11th position after victory over Hull at the MKM Stadium on Saturday.

Momentum is gathering under Ryan Lowe, this a fourth win of his stewardship which is galvanising club and supporters in a manner not seen for some time.

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Cameron Archer celebrates scoring Preston North End's winner against Hull City at the MKM Stadium

His league record as PNE manager reads four wins, four draws and a solitary defeat.

Points are being collected with an attacking brand of football which the fans have bought into – 1,800 of them were gathered behind the goal where Cameron Archer scored the winner.

It’s a work in progress under Lowe but the building blocks are being put in place for further momentum.

He wants North End to play on the front foot, see more of the ball than their opponents and score goals.

Cameron Archer is congratulated by his PNE team-mates

But what should not be overlooked are the three clean sheets kept in the last four games.

West Bromwich Albion, Millwall and now Hull, have all been shut-out this last couple of weeks.

At the Hawthorns and on Humberside, the clean sheets helped deliver three point.

It was only a point against Millwall at The Den but one not to be sniffed at.

North End skipper Alan Browne protests after referee Darren Bond disallows his effort against Hull City

Archer showed Premier League pedigree in finding the net at Hull, bringing down Ben Whiteman’s cross with a first touch and sweeping it past the keeper with the second.

The hired help from Aston Villa deserved a goal having hit the post and been denied by a good save in the first half.

He certainly enjoyed the battle against the Tigers back line more than he did singing his initiation song in the hotel on Friday night.

What was easier, belting out 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ in front of team-mates or scoring with 14,273 pairs of eyes on you? No contest, the latter any day of the week.

Hull goalkeeper Matt Ingram saves from PNE striker Emil Riis in the first half at the MKM Stadium

Archer supplied the scoring touch but this was very much a team effort over on the east coast.

Hull might be a few rungs of the ladder down but this was a tough time to play them.

They’d won their last three games and there’s a new expectancy around the place after Acun Ilıcalı – described as Turkey’s answer to Simon Cowell – bought the club.

It was North End who had the X-Factor on this occasion, getting the all important goal and then resolutely holding on to it.

They were to surrender some possession in the closing stages as they sat behind the ball but were to hang on quite comfortably.

So how does the land lie for Preston?

They sit just four points shy of the top six, albeit they have played more games than the four sides between them and sixth-place West Bromwich.

There is a belief in what they are doing, Lowe clearly a boss who can motivate a dressing room.

Lowe won’t let them get carried away by the upturn of the last couple of months because this division has the ability to trip teams up who get too ahead of themselves.

It’s Huddersfield next on Wednesday night and then to Peterborough next Saturday.

If Archer was the hero of the second-half, then Daniel Iversen took star billing in the first half. Over the piece as a whole, Andrew Hughes pipped them both for the man of the match honour.

Hughes does not always get the plaudits he deserves but this season he’s been one of PNE’s most consistent performers.

Like the rest of us inside the ground, he must have marvelled at the heroics of team-mate Iversen.

The Dane made two great saves and if you thought the first was good, the second was even better.

In the third minute he sprang across goal to claw away Di’Shon Bernard’s header which had deflected off Patrick Bauer.

Later in the half, Iversen seemed to double in size to block Tom Eaves’ header from six yards with his thigh.

It could quite easily have been 2-2 at the interval rather than the goalless turnaround it was.

Archer saw Hull keeper Matt Ingram stretch out his left foot to block a low shot.

Then the loanee’s effort from 20 yards got a deflection and came back off the post.

That was the second time PNE had hit the woodwork, Hughes having headed against the bar in the 24th minute after the ball looped up from a defender having tackled Archer in front of goal.

The rebound fell the way of Emil Riis, his effort saved on the line by Ingram.

Lowe asked his players for a touch more composure and quality when delivering his half-time team talk.

The message got through as North End twice got the ball in the net early in the second half, one of them counting.

When Greg Cunningham’s cross from the left-wing found Alan Browne in the 49th minute, the skipper brought it under control and hammered a right-foot finish into the roof of the net.

However, the ball had caught his hand as he shaped to shoot, that not escaping the attention of referee Darren Bond who immediately blew.

Mr Bond was pointing to the centre-circle to signal a goal just a few minutes later.

A clearance out of the Hull box was intercepted 25 yards from goal by Whiteman down the right hand channel.

He lifted a cross over the home defence which Archer moved to meet, brought under control and finished past Ingram with a low shot.

He slid on his knees in front of the away end and did his bow and arrow celebration, one I’m sure we will see on further occasions.

Lowe decided on hang on to what PNE had got rather than opening up the game in search of a second.

Ched Evans was dispatched from the bench to do battle with the Hull defence.

Bar defending a couple of corners and a routine save from Iversen, North End got the job done comfortably.

The ‘Lowecomotion’ is gathering steam.

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Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe delighted with away victory over Hull City