Defensive switch has been the cue to score for Preston North End skipper Alan Browne

Alan Browne has three times this season shown that moving him into Preston North End’s defence isn’t a case of shutting up shop.

Sunday, 27th December 2020, 4:45 pm

All three of Browne’s goals have come from the right-back or right wing-back position and delivered victories.

Twice he was on target in the 2-1 win over Huddersfield in October, then Browne was PNE’s Boxing Day hero against Derby at Pride Park.

The game was in the sixth minute of stoppage-time when the Irishman curled a great finish into the net from just inside the box to deliver a 1-0 victory – North End’s sixth win on the road this season.

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Alan Browne celebrates scoring Preston's winner against Derby at Pride Park

Browne had started the game as a holding midfielder and switched to a wing-back role when PNE changed to a 3-5-2 system during the second half.

With that having failed to break the deadlock against Derby’s 10 men – Browne on the receiving end of an over-the-ball tackle from Martyn Waghorn which brought the Rams attacker a red card – Preston boss Alex Neil switched to 4-4-2 for the last few minutes.

Browne said: “Changing positions is quite usual for me, I’m used to it now.

“At Huddersfield I moved to right-back and scored two then in this game I scored from right-back.

PNE skipper Alan Browne rides a challenge from Derby defender Lee Buchanan

“When I got the ball, the defender didn’t engage me and Ryan Ledson made a fantastic run to take him away and open the goal up.

“Thankfully I went for it and took it well. It was with my left foot and we work in training on left foot and right foot every day.

“When you are in the box and that close to goal, you should be at least be hitting the target with whatever foot.”

Browne admitted playing against 10 men for more than 70 minutes hadn't been something North End had found easy.

So he was relieved to say the least when his shot broke the deadlock with almost the last kick of the game.

"I don't think we played particularly well, it was tough against the 10 men," said Browne.

"When sides go down to 10 men they are compact, they sit in and are difficult to penetrate.

"We almost had too much time on the ball and people think in those situations you should be 2-0 or 3-0 up within a few minutes of the other team going down to 10 men.

"The key is being patient but we were probably too patient at Derby."

Browne did himself a slight disservice when talking about scoring on Boxing Day two years running.

It’s actually three years on the bounce the Irishman has netted on St Stephen’s Day, the one against Hull in 2018 slipping his mind.

Referencing last year’s goal at Leeds and Saturday’s strike, Browne said: “That is my second goal in two years straight after my Christmas dinner.

“I might have another for my pre-match before the next game!

“My missus and Sean Maguire’s missus cooked it so they need to get all the credit.”

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