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PNE in Numbers: Alex Neil's men in full control on opening day but clinical edge will need to come

It was very much a case of job done for Preston North End on the opening day against Queens Park Rangers.

ALSO READ: Captain Tom Clarke's Preston North End column

Alan Browne’s header five minutes into the second half settled the game and saw the Lilywhites pick up the three points at Deepdale.

Post-match Alex Neil said it was a game he felt his side dominated and controlled for large parts.

The stats certainly back that up.

According to handy Twitter account @EFLStats, North End’s 64 per cent possession was the fourth best in the Championship on opening weekend.

Alan Browne looks for an opening during PNE's win over QPR

Alan Browne looks for an opening during PNE's win over QPR

Neil’s men completed 404 of 517 passes for a pass completion rate of 77 per cent which again was at the sharp end of second tier numbers in tied fifth.

But the reality remains that possession doesn’t win prizes as West Bromwich Albion found out to their cost.

In their first game since relegation from the Premier League they led the way in terms of ball retention with 72 per cent possession with their pass accuracy of 82 per cent only bettered by Brentford who hammered newly-promoted Rotherham 5-1.
As for Darren Moore’s men, the numbers didn’t add up as they went down 2-1 at home to Bolton.

PNE’s story is a familiar one to a degree.

Part of the problem on home soil last season was that for plenty of promising play, it was the final pass, cross or decision that made the difference.

While North End picked up three points on Saturday, all their possession did result in just three shots on target.

That came from 15 attempted which was the sixth highest in the Championship on the day.

Neil knows that is where the work needs to be done and will be hoping two new arrivals from Manchester City can make the difference this week.

Plenty is expected of both winger Brandon Barker and striker Lukas Nmencha but they land at Deepdale with differing levels of first-team experience.

Barker has two full seasons out on loan under his belt at first City partner club NAC Breda in Holland and then Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership.

Added up, the 21-year-old has played around 60 senior games including 37 minutes for City in an FA Cup defeat to Chelsea back in 2016.

Nmecha has just the five of which two are late substitute appearances at the tail end of the last Premier League season and two are in the Checkatrade Trophy.

They are certainly exciting talents and will be given the chance to back that up with big numbers during their time at Deepdale.