Ben Pearson earns praise for his part in Preston North End’s romp at QPR

North End boss Alex Neil with Ben Pearson at the end of the win over QPR
North End boss Alex Neil with Ben Pearson at the end of the win over QPR

Alex Neil was keen to highlight the role Ben Pearson played in Preston’s victory over Queens Park Rangers.

The 24-year-old often gets talked about due to his liking for yellow and red cards.

But at Loftus Road he made North End tick from midfield as they romped to a 4-1 win.

It was the first time they had scored four goals on the road in the league for nearly four years.

Jayden Stockley, Jordan Storey, Alan Browne and Brad Potts were on target.

PNE boss Neil said: “Ben is a quality player, I’ve told you before that he is the best No.6 in the Championship.

“Good players keep things simple.

“You look at players like Pirlo – I’m not comparing Ben to him by the way – but the point I’m making is that kind of player doesn’t do anything spectacular where you think, ‘Wow, look at that’.

“They just move the ball and it looks so easy for them.

“Ben Pearson is that kind of player for us.”

The statistics showed that Pearson’s pass completion rate on Saturday was nearly 93%.

He made five tackles and won them all, also making four interceptions.

North End stayed in 18th place but the victory saw a 10-point gap open-up between themselves and the bottom three.

For Stockley, Storey and Potts, the goals were their first for Preston.

Stockley and Potts were playing only their second game after January moves, any pressure on them getting among the goals quickly lifted.

Neil felt a first victory since December coincided with him having a decent-sized squad to select from.

He was able to bring Ben Davies back into the centre of defence for the first time since Boxing Day after his recovery from a hamstring strain.

This was Pearson’s second game back from suspension, while there was a first start since November for Sean Maguire.

However, North End were without skipper Tom Clarke because of a calf injury.

“That type of performance was more like us in the second half of last season,” said Neil.

“I can’t stress it enough, when we get our best players back we are a force.

“The balance was better at the back with Ben Davies in there.

“We had been playing with two right-footers which doesn’t really help you play from the back.

“I thought the first goal we scored was reminiscent of last season in many ways.

“Alan Browne naturally closes down and it was a great finish by Jayden.

“In recent weeks there hasn’t been a selection as such – whoever was available played.”