Alan Browne’s double boost: Midfielder draws praise from Preston boss Alex Neil after hitting the 10 goal-mark for the season
Alex Neil was delighted to see midfielder Alan Browne hit double figures of goals for the season in Preston’s away win at Stoke City.
Browne gave North End a first-half lead at the bet365 Stadium, Brad Potts netting their second 10 minutes from time to wrap-up the points.
Potts scored for the second game running, Neil of the view that the January signing from Barnsley is capable of netting at a similar rate as Browne.
PNE boss Neil said: “Alan is just getting better and better.
“You’ll remember when I was getting stick for playing him as a No.10 but now he is double figures of goals.
“That is what happens with young players, they take time, they improve.
“Alan knows exactly what is required of him in that role.
“He got nine last year and has 10 now and we’ve not even reached the end of January.
“I think Brad is going to be very similar to Alan, he has two in two now.
“We can’t just rely on one striker to score, we try and get goals across the front line.
“Callum Robinson had 10 goals before he was injured.
“It is important to add goals in other parts of the teams.
“Sean Maguire coming back to fitness has made a massive difference to us.
“His flexibility in being able to play off the flank or up front is great for us, Sean is just a quality player.”
Browne’s 10 goals have come in 23 starts and he has started to find his scoring form on PNE’s travels.
His first eight goals this season were all at Deepdale but he has now found the net in back-to-back away games.
North End were worthy of their victory in the Potteries, Neil thinking they were the better side for long spells.
It needed a 90th minute penalty save from Declan Rudd to make stoppage-time more bearable though, Rudd pushing Sam Clucas’ spot kick against the bar.
Neil said: “I was pleased how we moved the ball.
“I thought we were the dominant team in terms of moving the ball and rotating it.
“Stoke found it difficult to get up to us and when they did, we punctured them in terms of playing balls between them and getting in behind.”
The 2-0 victory, PNE’s first win on Stoke turf since 1998, was watched by their biggest away support of the season.
There were 2,041 fans in the away end, following on from a healthy-sized 1,272 travelling support at Queens Park Rangers the week before.
Said Neil: “Our support was fantastic, absolutely great.
“After how we played at QPR, the fans have rallied and thought ‘Let’s go and support the lads’.
“The lads have responded by going there and putting in a very good performance.
“It was a good day and we want to push on from here.”