Exclusive Chris Maxwell PNE column

Applauding the Preston supporters
Applauding the Preston supporters

A clean sheet like the one we kept in the win against Queens Park Rangers last week, was a symbol of the hard work which the team puts in.

Everything we do is a team effort, whether that is keeping clean sheets at our end or going forward and scoring goals at the other.

We all play our part, it is about 11 players on the pitch and the lads who come on from the bench.

That approach is what it has been about at Deepdale for the last couple of years.

It was tough going against QPR, as was shown by them holding out until the 88th minute.

Yes, they went down to 10 men early in the game but let me tell you, playing 10 men can be harder than against 11 sometimes.

We have worn the boot on the other foot – in August 
we had Ben Pearson sent off at Leeds and had to play 
half-an-hour a man down.

In that game we held out quite comfortably and then almost snatched a win right at the end.

When you go down to 10 men, a side will generally shut up shop and protect what they have got.

If you are the team with 11 players, the expectation is on you to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Often you will have a lot more of the ball but the test is using it well and finding a way through the opposition’s solid lines.

It doesn’t matter how you win in the end, what matters is the three points.

After Jordan Hugill scored late on, we still had some defending to do and I had to make a save in the 93rd minute.

Being a goalkeeper, that kind of scenario can happen quite often – you don’t have a lot to do in a game but then you are called upon.

During the quieter period of a game it is important to stay alert and focused, as a keeper you do that through communication with the players in front of you.

If you are helping to get the outfield players into the right shape and positions, you are doing your job as a keeper.

The QPR win made it four games unbeaten for us and we have recovered really well from that sticky spell we had between the October and November international breaks.

That run was a bit of an eye-opener for us. We had been doing exceptionally well up to then.

I wouldn’t say we were taking it all for granted but it felt like we were doing really well and were unstoppable.

Before we knew it, we had four results which didn’t go our way.

We had to reassess things a bit, go back to how we were when we were achieving the good results.

I’ve said many times over the last few weeks that every club will have a bad run at some stage of the season.

If you think back to last season, Newcastle didn’t have a good start and had a couple of wobbles later on but ended up winning the division.

It is how you come back from a few bad results and just as importantly, what you learn from the experience.

With the group of players we have here and with the leader we have as a manager, we have all the tools to get some success.

In an ideal world, we ‘d love to go through the whole season being exceptionally good and winning every game. That is not football though, especially not football in the Championship. One week you can win 4-0, the next you can lose 4-0.

One last thing about the QPR game, you might have noticed me wearing a bit of a mix-and-match keepers’ kit.

I was in the tunnel before the game wearing all green and the referee just asked me if I could change my top as QPR were wearing green and black hoops.

So the kitman dug me out a black shirt and the referee was happy with that.

Turning to international football, it was interesting to see Panama drawn in the same group as England for the World Cup.

I was on the bench for Wales last month when 
we played Panama in a friendly.

They didn’t venture over the halfway line much and were a really compact team.

There were a few physical players in their side and a couple of flair players.

I wouldn’t say it will be an easy three points for England at the World Cup but if you had wanted anyone in your group, it would be Panama.

Wales fielded quite a young side against them and made seven changes as the game went on.

We could have won it by five or six goals and were very disappointed only to get a 1-1 draw.

The World Cup will be a great experience for Panama – it is the first time they have qualified for it.