Exclusive Alan Browne PNE column

Alan Browne (centre) sends a header into his own net in the clash with Leeds at Elland Road last month
Alan Browne (centre) sends a header into his own net in the clash with Leeds at Elland Road last month
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It was great to get back into action as a substitute in our win over Rotherham last week.

I had missed the Christmas games against Huddersfield and Hull City because of a hamstring injury.

No player likes to be injured and with the competition being how it is here, it was frustrating for me to miss two matches.

I got my chance early in the second half against Rotherham, coming on for John Welsh.

As I was getting ready in the dug-out, Alan Kelly told me to go out there and make a difference, try to make an impact.

The important thing was that we won the game and from a personal point of view, I thought I did okay.

A couple of my passes were a bit sloppy which I wasn’t happy about but otherwise, I got involved and had a couple of chances.

Their goalkeeper made a good save from me after I’d turned and got a bit of space to get a shot away.

I thought the really big difference was made by Paul Gallagher moving out wide.

Gally’s delivery of a ball can be second to none and you saw how much pressure we put Rotherham under once he starting putting in a supply of crosses from the left wing.

We equalised through Eoin Doyle and eventually Rotherham cracked right at the end with the own goal in stoppage-time.

It was a big relief to see that goal go in, I felt we deserved to win because of how much pressure we had during the second half.

Overall, I thought we were the better side and to have won two home games on the bounce was a big lift – it also moved us up a place in the table.

It is a bit ironic that I’m talking about how good it was to see the own goal give us the victory.

Against Leeds before Christmas, the boot was on the other foot and I scored an own goal which condemned us to defeat.

You feel awful when you score an own goal but no one intends for them to happen.

If there is an own goal, you just hope it is not of any major significance.

Unfortunately, mine was significant at Leeds, and it was the same for the Rotherham lad at our place.

It was during the Leeds game that I injured my hamstring, so it wasn’t the best of days for me at Elland Road.

I felt the injury in the first half but didn’t want to go off as we were down to 10 men and I wanted to stay on and help.

With me scoring the own goal, I probably wish I had gone off earlier!

Saying that, the injury was nothing to do with me putting the ball into my own net.

In the end, the gaffer did take me off. Some people might have thought it was to protect me after the own goal, but it was in fact down to the injury.

Had I stayed on longer and done more damage, the chances are that I wouldn’t be back in action by now.

After a busy spell of league football, we turn our attention to the FA Cup this weekend.

We all love a cup game and are looking forward to going to Peterborough.

Make no mistake, that will be a tough game because they are going really well in League One and have scored plenty of goals.

We have watched clips of them on DVD this week to see how they play, have a look at how they set up.

One or two of the boys know Graham Westley from his time as manager here, so that adds a bit more spice to things.

Hopefully, we can get a good result down there and be in the hat for the fourth-round draw on Monday.

The FA Cup was good to us last season, with us getting to the fifth round and landing Manchester United at Deepdale.

That was a great night for the club and fans – the ground was packed and for a while it looked like we were going to cause a shock.

It would be nice to have something similar this season but first we have to concentrate on playing Peterborough.

In the last few days, we have seen a couple of familiar faces return to Deepdale.

Sam Johnstone is back here on loan from Manchester United and played against Rotherham.

Then on Tuesday, Callum Robinson rejoined us from Aston Villa.

Both lads served us very well last season and played big parts in our promotion campaign.

Sam is solid as a rock in goal and the way he has fitted in during training and played in last week’s game, it is as if he had never been away.

I’m sure that it will be the same for Callum who had two spells here last season.

He trained for the first time with us on Tuesday and was quickly back among things.

Both he and Sam know most of the lads and know how they play.

A big void was left by Jordan Pickford going back up to Sunderland but I’m certain that Sam can fill his gloves.

I’m sure that Jordan will get into the Sunderland side at some stage because he is a top goalkeeper.

He displayed his talents during his loan here and also in previous loan spells at other clubs.

Jordan now deserves to get his chance at Sunderland and play on the big stage.

He’s a good lad, confident in his ability and it was great to be a team-mate of his for these last past five months.