The FOUR talking points from PNE's win over Middlesbrough

Preston North End got back on track at Deepdale with a comfortable 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 8:00 am

North End were in control for the majority of the game, Brad Potts getting the first goal with Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis finding the net in quick succession towards the end.

Here are the four talking points from Wednesday night's game...

1. No place like home.

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Scott Sinclair, Emil Riis and Ryan Ledson celebrate PNE's second goal in their 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.

We've been waiting for that. A really good home performance from start to finish with a good result to match.

3-0 is the typical margin you think of when their is a clear difference between two teams and that's exactly what it was like in PR1.

PNE were positive and lively throughout the 90 minutes and were always the side asking the questions, goals seeming a matter of when not if.

There were moments where you may doubt, chances going begging as we've seen happen in the past, but their style of play didn't falter and they kept creating and knocking on the door.

It was a much more PNE-like performance, it's what we've been used to more often that not at Deepdale over the last 18 months.

One added bonus too was that not only did they score three times, constantly threaten and impose their plans on the game, they kept the back door shut too.

2. Solid foundations.

In a similar way that the Lilyhwites looked threatening going forward and positive, the defence never looked too troubled.

Aside from one effort that hit the post, Middlesbrough didn't really test Declan Rudd, especially with anythign you'd expect to beat the no.1.

It is worth making the point that despite the poor run of results at home, Rudd could do little about the goals and his game has improved massively over the last few years.

From the chopping and changing and shots going under arms occasionally to a force in the area, confident and commanding. No longer targeted for not coming to claim, he sets the tone from inside PNE's own box.

Paul Huntington is now within just 10 of the 300 mark too.

3. Left backs are like buses.

After a prolonged period without a natural or even a recognised left back - or full back at one stage - two left backs make their return to the pitch on the same night.

Andrew Hughes started the game and was a standout on the left side, showing the benefit and balance that a natural left footer brings out there.

Simple passes down the line or into midfield keep things ticking and the line high which cannot be afforded if you're strongest foot isn't suited to that flank.

Josh Earl also made his return, coming on for Hughes, and looked up to speed too, which isn't easy.

Earl knocked the ball forward towards Riis before the Dane set Scott Sinclair up and hopefully both left backs can build on that game time and keep fit for the foreseeable now.

4. Impact from the bench.

Emil Riis had a torrid time coming off the bench against Wycombe Wanderers, against Middlesbrough it was the complete opposite.

He was a threat throughout his time on the pitch and that showed with his goal and assist.

The defence was softened up by a dogged Jayden Stockley but the Dane still had to take his chances and make the big moments count.

He deserved his goal, on the night and off the balance of his season so far, and he took it with confidence, completely leaving the defender behind as he stood him up and went round him.

His impact makes the scoreline look much healthier and more to what was deserved, but the other subs in Tom Bayliss, Sean Maguire and Josh Earl all added plenty of energy and the standards didn't drop as Alex Neil looked to his reinforcements.