FOUR talking points from Preston North End's win over Derby County

Preston North End saw off Derby County at Deepdale to record a league double over Wayne Rooney's side.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 12:30 pm
Ben Whiteman celebrates opening his PNE account.

A first half goal from Ben Whiteman was followed up by a further goal each from Ched Evans and Ryan Ledson to wrap up the 3-0 victory in PR1.

Here are four talking points from the win...

1. Job done.

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The victory over Derby all but seals PNE's Championship status for another season.

Though not mathematically safe, the Lilywhites' points total can only be matched and not surpassed by those below them.

Credit must go to Frankie McAvoy for galvanising a squad that looked bereft of confidence and ideas and injecting new life into them.

It isn'teasy to be a a part of the old regime and to adda new spin on things, adding energy despite being through the bad times they squad have endured.

In his first top job, he has succeeded.

Still an interim head coach, he may not receive the post full time but he will always have the thanks of the club who looked to him to ensure they weren't relegated.

Though relegation did always seem a little way from PNE, the threat was only getting more real - and that is no more.

Attacking intent has also been evident whilst increasing stability and getting results. Bravo.

2. Professional performance.

Aside from the professional job that the interim head coach has done in keeping PNE in the division, his side did the job over Derby County on Tuesday night.

They looked in control for the majority of the game and in a spell where the Rams were having the better of it, they weathered the storm and delivered a few counter punches.

Derby are a side struggling to maintain their place in the division, if PNE want to be a team comfortable in the Championship then these teams need to be brushed to one side.

They were - the result didn't look in too much doubt, but for some old wounds yet to heal.

There was a lingering thought that whilst the game was at 1-0 it left the Lilywhites open to a smash and grab of sorts where Derby could find themselves right back in the game off of a single moment.

That was soon put away by Ched Evans' poachers goal, so perhaps more trust should be put in this current PNE team in the form they are in.

Nevertheless, a thoroughly measured and accomplished performance that saw a league double over the Rams for the first time in over 15 years.

3. Whiteman gets his first.

One of the brighter sparks since January and his arrival, Ben Whiteman is now off the mark for PNE.

He showed a goalscoring touch at Doncaster Rovers before making the step up to the Championship - dead balls included - but he's finally got his name on the scoresheet at Preston.

Under Alex Neil it was a much more reserved role than under McAvoy, but there have been moments where he has made late runs into the area.

This time he benefited from a fine cross from captain Alan Browne and it was a header that broke his duck, not the right foot you often see spraying 40 or 50 yard passes.

How they go in doesn't matter, the header was well taken, but hopefully he can keep chipping in now.

He's deserved that personal accomplishment and it certainly looked like he enjoyed it.

4. Next season in mind?

With safety all but assured now, could it be a good opportunity for PNE to experiment with little to be played for in the remaining three games?

North End fans have been waiting for the end of the season for some time, in a cruel twist of fate having waited so long last season whilst in a play-off place, this campaign has almost been wished away from the start.

There have been changes since Frankie McAvoy took charge, all with the aim of doing the best he can this season.

That will still be the aim for the Scot, especially as his future beyond the next three games is unknown.

But could blooding some young players, or giving more minutes to those less involved so far be the most beneficial thing to do with an eye on next season?

Anthony Gordon has undeniable talent but has found game time hard to come by, perhaps a run in the team in the final three games could sway a decision he may have to make on a next loan move - likewise with Jayson Molumby.

Tom Bayliss needs no introduction to the PNE faithful, but is struggling to get off the bench at the moment.

And whatever happens - let Paul Gallagher lead the team out again.

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