FOUR things we learned from PNE’s victory at Nottingham Forest
Preston saw off the 2020/21 season with a victory over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
The Lilywhites came from behind to secure all three points.
James Garner netted for the Reds in the first half, PNE were a much better side in the second half and Tom Bayliss scored to make it 1-1.
Liam Lindsay headed the ball home to put PNE in the lead and the away side saw out the rest of the contest.
TOM SANDELLS looks at four talking points from the game.
1. Finishing strongly
Often you see sides nearing the end of the season ease off and have their minds on their summer holidays –that was not the case for PNE.
They battled throughout and though they were second best in the first half, it was not due to a lack of effort, rather quality.
Changes will have been made tactically at the break and the fight that is within the Lilywhites’ ranks helped them back into the game. They deservedly secured the win.
The main thing also is that the season is over. It’s been a long and gruelling campaign for all involved – players, staff and fans.
There was a very real threat of relegation as the end of the season drew nearer but that was quickly put away by Frankie McAvoy.
No fans and not much to shout about otherwise, a dire campaign can be put behind PNE and instead they can look towards a brighter season next time.
2. Thank you, Frankie
McAvoy’s impact cannot be understated. He has breathed fresh life into PNE and transformed their performance.
He deserves the job. Whether he gets it or not is a different matter, but to take 17 points from a possible 24 is exceptional, especially when you consider that North End didn’t look able to buy a win before he took over.
The Scot will have the thanks of every PNE fan and the vast majority would welcome him back as full-time head coach next season.
3. Big season for Bayliss
It feels like this question is posed every season – last season Tom Bayliss got minutes towards the end of the campaign but was rarely seen at all this season.
He started the final game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday and also scored.
Bayliss is still one of the biggest purchases in the club’s history and is still only 22-years-old. Ryan Ledson won both player of the year awards and his start to life at Deepdale was similar.
He spent seasons waiting and taking game time where he could and is now a star turn in the side.
It would be a big jump for Bayliss, who has had less game time than Ledson did as he was waiting, but the potential is there for him to establish himself.
4. Big summer ahead
Once relegation was avoided and the play-offs were never really ever realistic, attention did turn to the summer for some.
It is certainly going to be an important transfer window for PNE.
Eight in and eight out in January was disruptive to say the least, as were the contracts that were set to expire.
First things first, avoid losing players for free. Get it sorted quickly and early. That needs to be a lesson learned.
Next, it’s all about recruitment and getting the right people in.
That isn’t limited to players – the new man to lead the team must be decided and the more time that man gets the better.
Last season was a mess, from start to finish. Fast action and a clear plan will stand North End in much better stead to be challenging for the play-off places again.