Exclusive Alan Browne PNE column

Scoring the penalty against Hull last week
Scoring the penalty against Hull last week

I have stepped up to take a couple of penalties recently and I was glad to see them both hit the back of the net, in particular the one against Hull City last week which proved to be our winner.

While I have only started taking them for Preston in the past month, I took plenty back home in Ireland and I’m confident with them.

In past years I was behind a few other lads in terms of penalty taking – recently DJ and Paul Gallagher.

Neither of them were on the pitch when we got the penalty at Wycombe in the FA Cup, so I stepped up and thankfully managed to score.

When we were awarded the one against Hull, DJ was on the bench and Gally said he wasn’t going to take the ball off me because I had taken a good one last time.

At Nottingham Forest, DJ took our penalty because he is the designated taker and I wasn’t complaining about that – he takes a confident penalty.

He had just come on and it was probably his first touch of the ball – credit to him, he put it away nicely.

I’ve got four goals so far this season – the long-range shot against Cardiff, the two penalties and the volley at Wycombe.

Adding goals to my game is something the gaffer has emphasised a lot this season, he sees that at the next stage of my development.

The fact I’m playing in the more advanced midfield role will hopefully help me to do that.

If I can score more goals, that will give me the extra confidence I need to kick on.

I suppose the type of goal I would like to score more of is a close-range tap-in, being in the right place at the right time.

Any goal is a good one and it is about getting into the right areas – the more I do that, the more I will score.

When I played in Ireland, I was used to scoring a lot of goals. The standard wasn’t as high at home and when I came here, I found scoring more difficult.

Probably the first two years were spent finding my position in the squad, which was difficult.

Now that I’m a lot more established here, it is time to push on and score more.

It’s four years since I came to Preston and the time has flown by.

I’m one of the longest-serving players now, it is just the lads signed early on by Simon Grayson and by the manager before him, who have been here longer.

The advanced midfield role is one I’m enjoying this season.

I wasn’t sure how it would work out and I had to change my game a bit to make it work.

I’m more confident on the ball and driving forward, and it’s all about getting into the areas higher up the pitch.

At first it did come as a surprise that the gaffer wanted me to play higher up but he was sure he wanted me there and it has worked out.

While there is still some defending work to do, there is not as much on that front as there would be playing in the roles that Ben Pearson and Gally might do.

The role is to create chances, at times take a game by the scruff of the neck and drive us forward.

It has needed me to add a few different bits to my game but I’m getting there with it.

We head to Brentford this weekend after back-to-back wins over Forest and Hull.

Those two games showed that there are different ways to win.

Against Forest, I thought we dominated the game after the first 20 minutes.

Our passing was very good and we changed our game a bit, having lost 
Jordan Hugill.

The Hull game was about battling back after we had fallen a goal behind.

We equalised and then took the lead before half-time and in the second half we knew they would throw bodies forward.

Two different ways of playing produced two wins and six points.

Those two victories moved us up to seventh place and I still think we should be higher up the table.

The injury crisis when a lot of our defenders were out didn’t help our cause and might have cost us a few points.

We managed to stick in there and have been on a good run to take us to just outside the play-off places.

Most of the boys are back from injury now and we still have a couple to return.

The Brentford game will be tricky as they seem to have been a bit of a bogey team for us over the years.

The first time I played there in 2014, they won 1-0 and got promoted.

It was a horrible feeling watching others celebrate while we were disappointed.

Last year, we managed to beat Brentford 4-2 at home, which was a great result.

Hopefully we can go there and bring back a good result to maintain our form.