Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Tom Barkhuizen is congratulated after scoring Preston's equaliser against Bolton
Tom Barkhuizen is congratulated after scoring Preston's equaliser against Bolton

There was plenty of character shown by Preston North End in coming back from a goal down in a derby to win it comfortably.

PNE had gone to Bolton on the back of last week’s home defeat to Ipswich and to go 1-0 down early doors could have knocked their confidence.

But Alex Neil isn’t the type of manager to panic and his players showed calm heads to take things in their stride and hit back to score three goals in the second half.

There was another goal for Tom Barkhuizen, who has scored a few of late, then Sean Maguire came off the bench to net twice.

Having him back will be a big bonus and hopefully he can help fill the gap up front left by Jordan Hugill’s sale.

They are different types of striker, Maguire more of the fox-in-the-box type.

Before his injury, Maguire tended to play wider and come inside to get his goals that way.

He was played centrally at Bolton and got his rewards with two close-range goals.

It sounds like a very nasty injury Maguire had, to tear your hamstring and for it to come away from the tendon sounds horrendous.

Maguire probably played on adrenaline and North End will have to be careful with him over the next few weeks in terms of his workload.

When you come back from a long-term injury, any player just wants to make up for lost time.

But you have to make sure it’s not too much too soon.

However tempting it might be to throw Maguire straight in, it might be a case of another game or two from the bench.

That is six goals now for Maguire, despite him having missed so much football.

He is already looking a snip at the price which North End paid Cork for him and the Irish market is one which they have used well over the last couple of years.

When you have not got £6m to splash out on one player, a club has to try and be creative in the transfer market.

On Saturday, the pressure was on North End by reason of Middlesbrough – one of their play-off rivals – having beaten Leeds 3-0 on Friday night.

Boro went four points ahead of them with that win, so it was good that Preston pegged them back less than a day later.

It is a big week now with home games against Bristol City and Fulham.

If North End could come out of those two games with a healthy points return, they will be in a strong position.

While their form has been better on the road than it has been at Deepdale, now would be a great time to make their home advantage count.

It might help that both Bristol City and Fulham are going well and are not the type of sides to park the bus.

If they are prepared to come out and attack, that might help Preston to find the necessary space and gaps to play in.

At the moment it looks like just sixth place is up for grabs, with there five clubs in the race for it.

Put together a good run and PNE still have as a good chance as anyone.