Exclusive Paul Gallagher PNE column

Scoring from the penalty spot against Leeds at Deepdale
Scoring from the penalty spot against Leeds at Deepdale

Against Leeds I was back on penalty duty and I’m glad to say I found the back of the net.

People have commented on the technique I use, where I turn my back on the ball and keeper, walk away and then spin round quickly to start the run-up.

It was something I started doing at Leicester and I’ve done it every since – I took a lot of penalties at Leicester and I was pretty successful.

Alan Shearer used to do similar at Blackburn – turn away and smash it – and so did James Beattie, so maybe that stuck with me.

Sometimes I lace the ball, sometimes I place it, often I don’t have a clue where I’m going to put it.

If you get enough power on a penalty, you’ve got a good chance of it going in.

There have been times when I haven’t scored from the spot.

The one I took for North End a few years back against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup went over the bar is probably still travelling to this day!

I missed one at Bradford in the promotion season but fortunately the ball came back to me off the keeper and I put the rebound in.

During my time here we have had a few good penalty takers.

Joe Garner used to take them, Daniel Johnson takes a good one, while Alan Browne had scored two this season before missing in the Derby game.

He was unlucky with that one and there was no blame attached to him by the lads in the dressing room.

Browney used to take them for Ireland when he was a kid, he’s used to taking them, so it was right that he took the one against Derby.

If you’ve got a player who has scored his last two penalties, you are not going to be wrestling the ball off him are you?

Before the Leeds game the gaffer told me that I was on penalties if we got one.

It was not something I was going to shy away from and was happy to get the nod.

Some people say that you should always score with a penalty, however there can be a lot of pressure on them.

If a game is 0-0 or you are 1-0 down as we were against Leeds, it can kick-start you.

On Tuesday the penalty kick-started the second half and from there we went to the next level – we found some momentum and went from there.

It could have kick-started our season – with four games to go, who knows?

We were disappointed to have conceded the goal in the first half.

I’ll take responsibility in that the lad who put in the cross went past me on the side of the box.

I should have put the brakes on a bit more rather than dash out to him like I did – I then had to let him go because if I had dived in and caught him, it would have been a penalty.

Probably I should have stood him up but it shows that as an experienced player I’m still learning.

If I had that time back, I would have slowed down, showed him away.

Our first-half display had been okay but I thought we really pushed on after the interval.

A bit of magic from Billy Bodin won us the penalty, he’s got great feet.

For the second goal, I put in a cross for Sean Maguire to score.

I never shy away from putting a cross over, it’s been my bread and butter all through my career.

It was Billy who flicked the ball out to me and to be honest my first touch was not the best – I had to take a step back instead of coming on to it.

I managed to get it round the defender with a bit of whip and I thought it was a brave header from Sean as the keeper was coming out.

Browney was brave too with his header for the third goal and he showed that it is always worth taking a chance getting across your man at the front post.

With four games to go there could still be twists and turns in the play-off race.

Some of the teams above us have to play each other, so points will be dropped.

If we are in a position where we are going into the last game against Burton with something to play for, everyone would be pleased.

We’ve put a lot of hard work in from the first day of pre-season and you want something to show for that.

If someone had told me before the season that with four games left we would 
still be mathematically in with a shout, I’d have taken that and so would everyone at the club, I would imagine.

Remember, the gaffer only arrived a week or so 
into pre-season training, 
so for him to have changed our style and approach quickly is testament to him.

Fingers crossed for a 
good result at QPR on Saturday.