PNE in Numbers: Play-off push built on solid foundations

Ben Davies has been key in Preston's impressive defensive showing this season.
Ben Davies has been key in Preston's impressive defensive showing this season.

Whenever he was asked about potential business in the January transfer window Alex Neil knew what needed adding to his squad more than anything else.

“Goals” was often the response as he fielded questions about potential incomings at Deepdale this month.

The club have moved quickly to grant their manager’s wish with Billy Bodin and Louis Moult brought in to add competition at the sharp end of the field, the signing of Connor Simpson probably done with a more longer term view.

It’s not hard to see why forward players were at the top of the shopping list.

PNE’s 31 goals at 1.15 per game makes them the lowest scorers in the top half of the Championship.

Middlesbrough, one place above them in the table in ninth, are next with 35 while for context, runaway leaders Wolves’ 50 goals mean they have been the most prolific side this season.

The league average is 1.25 goals per game, slightly down on the 1.31 we saw across last season.

For North End, Jordan Hugill is the clear leader at the top of the goalscoring charts with 10 goals, eight of those coming in the league.

The big No.9 is already closing in on his total for the whole of last season, 13.

Despite not having played since November, Sean Maguire is one of four players on four goals alongside Callum Robinson, Tom Barkhuizen and Josh Harrop.

He may not have featured yet due to a hamstring injury but you’d back Moult to be in amongst that group soon having had an impressive one in two ratio during his time with Motherwell.

What PNE have done is build a play-off push on solid foundations.

They have conceded just the 27 goals in the league this season, working out at a goal a game.

That gives Neil’s men the joint-fifth best defensive record in the division alongside Middlesbrough.

The top four in the second tier lead the way with Wolves again on top having conceded just the 20 goals, giving them a plus 30 goal difference, a statistic which underlines their position as champions-elect, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men currently 10 points clear of Derby in second.

At the wrong end of the table, Saturday’s visitors to Deepdale Birmingham City are the lowest scorers in the division with just 15 goals in 27 matches.

Bottom side Sunderland have the leakiest defence having conceded 47, showing they have plenty of work to do to get out of trouble.