John Roper’s verdict on PNE’s win against Cardiff

PNE striker Jordan Hugill battles with Cardiff's Sean Morrison
PNE striker Jordan Hugill battles with Cardiff's Sean Morrison
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Not a bad result for a team who, apparently, can`t win 3-0 or 4-0 in the Championship according to our manager.

Preston North End finally got the result and the performance on the same day and calmed one or two nerves with a very good win against Cardiff at Deepdale.

It has to be said that the visitors were disappointing on the evening but having said that we had to defend for a significant percentage of the second period before Jordan Hugill put the game to bed.

The 4-4-2 worked well on the night with Callum Robinson and Aiden McGeady causing real trouble once North End finally got into gear.

Things did take a while to ignite but two goals late in the first half from Tom Clarke and Robinson set North End on their way, much to the delight of the 9,216 inside Deepdale on a humid rainy evening.

Both teams seemed content on feeling their way into the game and with confidence low, it wasn`t perhaps surprising that many of the early exchanges were in the middle of the park.

The Bluebirds had the first chance through Anthony Pilkington but after that it was North End who went through the gears much quicker than the visitors from the Principality and started to cause some problems.

A double chance for North End was saved and then blocked, and then Ben Wilson saved a Gally free kick diving to his left.

Alan Browne then had a great strike saved before Tom Clarke opened the scoring ten minutes from the break.

A long ball was dropped by Wilson under pressure from Clarke and the skipper then turned to half volley the ball into the net.

It was no more than we deserved and just five minutes later it was 2-0 when Robinson went in the inside left channel and struck a left foot shot across Wilson to double our lead.

Clearly Cardiff had to get back into the game and the 3-5-2 they played in the first half was abandoned for a more traditional 4-4-2, to match North End, was introduced along with playmaker Peter Whittingham who, oddly, was on the bench in the first half.

The visitors won a series of corners but Anders Lindegaard and the North End back line did what they had to do and defended very well all evening with Clarke getting the man of the match accolade.

Lindegaard was called upon to make a couple of excellent saves but you never felt that it was inevitable that Cardiff would score.

As the game wore on we reasserted ourselves and began to worry the visitors defence with Greg Cunningham and McGeady having great chances to score only to be thwarted by Wilson in the Cardiff goal.

With two minutes left it was game over when Jordan Hugill cut in from the left and went along the 18 yard line before unleashing a superb curling shot that left the Cardiff keeper grasping at fresh air.

Deepdale was bouncing again and North End had finally laid the home ghost to rest and in some style I might add.

The relief at the final whistle was clearly palpable all round the ground apart from in the Kop where the 215 travelling fans had already begun to make their way home before Hugill finished things off.

Relief, too, on the faces of Simon Grayson and his management team as it has been a tough few days since the disappointing home defeat on Saturday against Barnsley.

We certainly hope that this will be the catalyst for North End to move onward and upwards up the Championship table with this hugely morale boosting victory coupled with some notable performances particularly from some of the younger players like Browne, Hugill and Robinson.

Onward to the capital we go on Saturday and a chance to continue our climb away from trouble at Brentford and on this sort of form who would back against us.