It was nice to see Preston open up a little bit more in Saturday’s terrific victory over Reading at Deepdale.
Obviously, Simon Grayson is a manager who likes his teams to be hard to beat, defensive-minded and hit teams on the counter-attack.
We saw that tactic worked a treat last week against Burnley at Turf Moor, but I think at Deepdale, North End must come out and attack more.
I remember writing a few weeks ago that if North End were going to move away from the relegation zone in the Championship, they had to start picking up more wins at home and that means opening up a bit more.
It’s difficult finding that balance between being tight at the back and having enough attacking flair in the final third.
They got that just about right against Reading, earning the clean sheet and then getting the goal to earn all three points. On paper, the 1-0 scoreline looks like a close game, but with the amount of chances Preston created, it should have been a lot more emphatic than that.
At the end of the day though, you get the same number of points for a 1-0 win as you do for winning 5-0.
But it was great to see the front three interchanging positions and affecting things in different areas of the pitch.
They were allowed to do that because of the defensive platform Preston have built over the last couple of months.
The back three or four are solid and all know their jobs. With Paul Gallagher sitting deep and getting on the ball, it allows the forwards to play with freedom. Adam Reach was one of those players who enjoyed playing further up the field on Saturday.
He hit the post and had a few shots cleared off the line. He is a player who has impressed me.
I do know a little bit about him because he hails from the North East like me.
He’s obviously on loan from Middlesbrough and I know they think very highly of him.
Boro have brought through a number of good young players over the years.
I am sure they will be looking at his performances for Preston and thinking of recalling him.
It may well be that they think that it will be in their own and Reach’s interests to stay at Deepdale until the end of the season.
Let’s hope that is the case because he and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who is on loan from Sunderland, have become big players for Preston.
But there is a danger that they will be gone in January and that is bound to have a big effect on North End’s season.
Pickford certainly looks set for a return to the Stadium of Light and you can’t blame their new manager Sam Allardyce for wanting him back to have a look at.
That is the risk of the loan market, but I am sure Grayson has got plans in place to deal with that eventuality.
All in all, it’s a good period for North End. They are moving in the right direction in the table, playing some good football and Joe Garner is finding form in front of goal.
The way he won the penalty was excellent centre-forward play and he smashed it home with confidence – let’s hope there are more goals to come from Joe.
On another note, it was interesting to see England’s Euro 2016 draw on Saturday.
It looks a tough group and the match against Wales is one to whet the appetite.
Russia and Slovakia will be difficult games but I’m backing Roy Hodgson’s men to have enough to come through the group.