Peterborough 0 Preston North End 1: Dave Seddon's verdict - a tale of two managers in their pursuit of Cameron Archer

The majority of this game will be quickly forgotten but the quality of Cameron Archer’s winner is one to store in the memory bank.

By Dave Seddon
Sunday, 13th February 2022, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 13th February 2022, 8:14 am

If ever a goal was a touch out of synch for the occasion, the 80th minute strike at London Road was just that.

Archer took a pass from Alan Browne on the move, switched it inside on to his supposedly weaker foot and curled a lovely finish across goal into the far top corner.

It delivered PNE victory over a Peterborough side who would have considered themselves worthy of a point.

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Preston North End striker Cameron Archer celebrates with Ched Evans, Daniel Johnson and Ryan Ledson after scoring against Peterborough United

This was a prime example of why the Lilywhites pushed hard to secure Archer’s services from Aston Villa for the second-half of the season.

Strikers of his ability can swing a game in the blink of an eye with their movement and instinct in the box.

It’s three in six for Archer in a North End shirt, as good a first few weeks of a loan spell as could be expected from someone who had not previously sampled the rigours of the Championship.

The irony of him netting was not lost on Posh manager Darren Ferguson.

Cameron Archer turns to celebrate after netting the winner at Peterborough

He’d enquired himself about a loan deal for Archer but the message came back that he wasn’t available.

Ryan Lowe was clearly more persuasive and twisted the arm of pal Steven Gerrard to land the 20-year-old.

Ferguson, who managed PNE for 11 months in 2010, said: “Archer is a player we tried to sign.

“We tried to sign him before January even started but he wasn’t available.

Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson and PNE boss Ryan Lowe on the touchline at London Road

“It happens, it’s the way it goes and as soon as he’s hit it, it’s a goal. I was right behind it.

“It’s a bit of quality and not a mistake from us.”

By rights, any goal which was going to settle this contest should have been a scrappy affair, the ball bundled over the line or hitting someone’s backside on the way in.

As Lowe observed once he had done his first-pump in front of 1,020 travelling fans, it had not been an afternoon for football – not for the purist anyway.

PNE striker Ched Evans puts his head in where it hurts against Peterborough

The wind swirled around the ground, while the playing surface was bumpy and prevented any meaningful football being played.

But for one moment only, Archer defied the conditions and delivered an away victory for the second week running.

He had fired the winner at Hull, then further down the east side of the country, struck again.

North End have won six away games in the league this season, four of them since Lowe was given the reins.

The question of whether they can challenge for the play-offs is a genuine one now.

Others are better placed and have matches in hand but the top six is certainly not beyond PNE.

Four points separate sixth-placed Middlesbrough and Lowe’s lads back in 11th.

Remember, it’s only two months or so ago that people were tipping North End to stay out of relegation trouble only by reason of other teams being dreadful and having had points deductions.

With pretty much the same squad that he inherited, Archer excepted, Lowe has turned around both fortunes and belief.

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PNE player ratings: Peterborough United 0 Preston North End 1

He’s got the PNE supporters on board with him, decent numbers again travelling on Saturday.

The trip to Posh was their fifth away game in three weeks and none of them have exactly been on the doorstep.

Two home games come next before North End head to Coventry which is being touted as a big away day for the faithful.

The longer this contest with Fergie Jnr’s side went on, the more you thought it was going to be one where you accepted a point and went home.

So for them to dig out the late winner was especially sweet, a nice surprise at the end of a game which was a tough watch.

Peterborough had the better chances, forcing Daniel Iversen into a couple of saves and hitting the woodwork.

Joe Day’s long distance free-kick which struck the bar happened less than a minute before Archer scored.

Lowe would have liked a lot more quality from his team but acknowledged that was expecting a lot in the conditions.

Archer’s goal changed the landscape and meant a happy ride home up the A1.

He had Emil Riis as his company up front to start with, that until the hour mark when Ched Evans stepped off the bench to replace the Dane.

That change helped PNE to get more of a grip on the game, certainly in terms of getting the ball to stay up front rather than be fired back at them.

Peterborough were off the back of a 4-0 defeat at Cardiff last Wednesday and there was a determination about them not to allow a repeat.

Hence the visitors found their hosts pressing them aggressively and carving out some decent chances.

Both sides hit the bar in the first half, Andrew Hughes doing so with an early cross from the left.

Ward repeated that at the other end but the flag was up for offside against him.

The action was attritional, the ball more often than not bouncing around with little opportunity for someone to put their foot on it and play.

In the second half, Kwame Poku headed over from inside the six-yard box, Jonson Clarke-Harris forced a diving save from Iversen and then Ward put his laces through a 35-yard free-kick which struck the bar.

The woodwork would still have been rattling when the resulting goalkick landed in the middle of the pitch.

Daniel Johnson won his battle with a home player to take possession and knock it to Alan Browne, the skipper taking it on a few paces before sliding a pass to Archer on the right hand side of the box.

Archer controlled, moved inside on to his left foot and curled a shot beyond the dive of keeper Steven Benda.

Bodies were put behind the ball to hold on to the lead, that done ever so efficiently.

Six-and-a-half minutes of stoppage-time produced no scares for North End.

Archer wore a grin from ear to ear as he left the pitch, the PNE fans’ love for him having grown fonder.