Exclusive Sean Gregan Preston North End column: Away victory’s sweet after long wait

Preston midfielder Ben Pearson makes a challenge in the 1-0 win at Bristol City
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson makes a challenge in the 1-0 win at Bristol City

Football is a strange old game at times, you only need to ask Preston North End and Bristol City to confirm that.

PNE have a remarkable record over the last few years when facing the Robins.

Saturday’s win stretched their unbeaten run against City to 11 games.

Not only that, it was their fifth victory at Ashton Gate on the bounce.

As players we have all had our lucky grounds but I doubt nothing to that extent.

There were a few grounds Preston seemed to do well at when I played for them but nothing like winning there five years in a row.

On the flip side of the coin, I didn’t have a good record at the Millennium Stadium for example, losing two play-off finals there in my career.

Gillingham was another ground I didn’t really enjoy playing at – it was always a place Preston found it hard to get something at.

For whatever reason, North End have got into good habits when playing Bristol City these last few years.

It now probably works two ways – PNE use the good run as a confidence booster, something to take into the game and hold on to.

The boot seems on the other foot with City, with perhaps it a psychological thing now.

Long may it continue from a Preston perspective and this latest win was a big one in many ways.

It was the first one away from home in the league this season – that’s a big burden off their back for starters.

The clean sheet was also very important, the first time they’ve done that away in the Championship.

At the other end of the pitch there was another goal for Callum Robinson, who is having a great season.

He was in the right place at the right time to steer home a close-range finish for the winner. That is nine goals for him this season which is pretty decent going for a side which has only recently climbed out of the bottom three.

Robinson has shown his versatility this season in playing both as a striker and on the left-hand side of the attack.

It is versatility which a lot of managers look for in players these days and Alex Neil will know that he can call on Robinson to play anywhere across that front line.

Of course when a player is in the form like Robinson is at the moment, it can attract attention from elsewhere.

If a player is scoring quite regularly at this level, clubs are going to check him out. We saw what happened with Jordan Hugill when he was among the goals last season.

But hopefully North End can keep hold of Robinson and have the benefit of the lad developing further as a player.

Preston can now take a breather as international football returns.

This is the third break of the season, which tends to disjoint the flow in the first few months.

But once action resumes towards the end of the month, there are no more breaks until next spring.

That is a big part of the season with an opportunity to pick up plenty of points.