Dave Seddon's match verdict: Preston North End 2 Brentford 0 - the Lilywhites are setting off at speed at Deepdale

Tom Barkhuizen scores Preston's second goal against Brentford at Deepdale
Tom Barkhuizen scores Preston's second goal against Brentford at Deepdale

Home is where the heart is for Preston North End this season and they have been coming out of the traps with some speed at Deepdale too.

It is four league wins out of four in front of the faithful, their best home start since the 1975/76 campaign.

Billy Bodin takes on Julian Jeanvier

Billy Bodin takes on Julian Jeanvier

And a driving force behind those victories has been the knack of scoring early.

Sean Maguire struck in the fourth minute to set PNE on their way to the three points against Brentford.

That was their earliest goal of the season but it’s not as if they had been slouches before Saturday.

Against Wigan they were in front inside six minutes, when they beat Stoke their opener came in the seventh minute.

Preston manager Alex Neil

Preston manager Alex Neil

It makes their 32nd minute first goal in the victory over Sheffield Wednesday seem almost late in the day.

There was a determination from Alex Neil to see Preston better on home turf and this season’s statistics stand up to scrutiny.

In 2018/19, Neil’s men won eight at home and the same number away – they gathered seven more points at Deepdale courtesy of draws.

The season before, Neil’s first in charge, North End took three more points on their travels than they did at home.

Preston left-back Joe Rafferty tussles with Brentford winger Sergi Canos

Preston left-back Joe Rafferty tussles with Brentford winger Sergi Canos

Lilywhites manager Neil said: “It’s something which has been lacking and criticised which is fair comment.

“We’ve wanted to improve the home form and I think we have done it in a variety of ways so far.

“We didn’t beat Brentford with the style we did against Wigan but we found a way to win the game.”

Neil seemed to take much satisfaction from winning the tactical arm wrestle between himself and Bees head coach Thomas Frank.

It is the view of the Scot that Brentford are perhaps the hardest side in the division to match tactically.

Indeed the visitors moved the ball well, played between the lines and countered with an impressive swiftness.

However, they had little end product with PNE able to keep them at arm’s length.

They let the Londoners have space on the wings to a certain extent, in the knowledge that crosses into the box could be dealt with comfortably.

Neil asked North End to be compact and narrow in their defending and the result was a second clean sheet of the season.

Always one to enjoy being sat in front of a DVD studying the opposition, Neil had a full fortnight to prepare for this game during the international break.

The plans still had to be amended late in the day, Ben Pearson pulling out of the game because he was suffering from a virus.

Neil also had to assess the fitness of Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen, both of who he all-but ruled out at his press conference last Thursday.

Both started and both got on the scoresheet, clearly gambles worth taking.

Maguire’s early goal was created by Ryan Ledson, the replacement for Pearson.

When Pearson has missed games in the past, North End have sometimes struggled.

Not this time, Ledson and Alan Browne able to give the home the presence necessary in midfield for the time they were on the pitch together.

Paul Gallagher partnered Brown for the last 35 minutes as Neil went for a touch more creativity.

This fixture had produced 18 goals in the previous three seasons – 4-2, 2-3 and 4-3.

Saturday was more sedate on the goalscoring front with the sides managing two shots on target each, Preston ruthless in the fact they made both of theirs count.

Defensively they were very good too, with Patrick Bauer winning the sponsors’ man of the match award.

I leaned the way of Darnell Fisher in those stakes, the right-back as good as he has been in a long while.

Little went past him, the one blot on his copybook a yellow card which fell into the ‘taking one for the team’ category.

Fisher got an assist too, turning up in the box to roll a cross into Barkhuizen’s path.

Barkhuizen played down the middle as the No.9 in a three-man attack, Maguire on the left and Billy Bodin the right.

It was a contest for pace and movement rather than to try and compete with three physical central defenders which the Bees strung across the back.

While Maguire’s starting position was narrow on the left, he was bang central to put Preston ahead.

A third corner in a row sent over right-footed by Bodin on the left was eventually kicked out of the box.

Ledson whipped it straight back into the middle, Maguire afforded the space to chest it down and wrap his foot over the ball to shoot past keeper David Raya from six yards.

The Irishman celebrated by putting a hand over his left eye, the one he had injured in training and caused him to miss the draw at Nottingham Forest before the break.

In terms of attacking play, we saw more of Brentford than PNE in the first half but they created little.

The one save from Declan Rudd in the 45 minutes saw him parry Said Benrahma’s 20-yard shot.

Rudd saved with his legs early in the second half from Ollie Watkins, then a free-kick from Benrahma sailed inches wide.

The introduction of Paul Gallagher and later of Josh Harrop seemed to get Preston back in control.

A second goal was needed to put the game to bed and that came in the 70th minute.

Involved in the build-up were both full-backs, with Joe Rafferty picking-up a Harrop pass down the left channel.

Rafferty moved inside and floated a pass across the pitch to find Fisher in the box.

His low ball across the face of the six-yard box was met by Barkhuizen who side-footed home a simple finish.

From Bees boss Frank there were no complaints about the outcome.

He conceded that ‘Preston had played the game on their terms’, a nod to the fact that Neil had got his tactics right.

It might not have been all possession and firing shots from every angle but it got them the result against a side who down the years have been a real handful.