EXCLUSIVE Sean Gregan Preston North End column: Penalty takers have a system that’s working

I have a 100% record from the spot...the shootout kick against Birmingham in the play-offs was the ONLY one I ever took
I have a 100% record from the spot...the shootout kick against Birmingham in the play-offs was the ONLY one I ever took

It was interesting to see Preston utilise two different penalty takers in last week’s draw against Bristol City at Deepdale.

Paul Gallagher scored from the spot just before half-time to hand North End a route back into the match after City had opened up a two-goal advantage in the first half.

Scoring from the penalty spot against Birmingham City

Scoring from the penalty spot against Birmingham City

Shortly after the break I was expecting to see Gallagher step forward once more when PNE were awarded another spot-kick.

Instead, it was Daniel Johnson who took the ball and converted from 12 yards to draw the home side level.

I must admit during my career, I was never part of a team which changed its penalty taker for a second 
spot-kick in a match after the first one had been scored.

I can remember a few occasions when we would have a change if the first one had been missed in a match, but never if it had been scored.

Maybe Gally and DJ have some sort of deal because both have proven to be pretty adept from the spot over the years.

Perhaps DJ stepped forward to keep the Bristol City goalkeeper guessing.

What was important was that DJ scored, so the change worked out well.

In my day, Graham Alexander was the penalty taker at North End and he was so good from 12 yards that there was no chance that anybody would get the ball off him – even on the odd occasion when he might have missed one earlier in the match, although I can’t remember Grezza missing too many.

I only ever took one in my career and that was during the play-off semi-final against Birmingham City in 2001.

As history will tell you I belted it in past the Blues keeper and we went on to win the shootout and progress through to the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.

As captain of the team, I felt that I had a responsibility to take one that night, but other than that I never really had a burning desire to take one during a match.

If I am being honest, I never really had the opportunity.

It was always Grezza and if it wasn’t him it would be one of the forwards like Jon Macken or David Eyres.

I was happy to retire with a 100% record from the spot!

Regardless of the penalty debate, I thought it was a good point against Bristol City, who I think could be up there.

On Tuesday, North End might be kicking themselves for not getting the win at Middlesbrough and having to settle for a draw.

Boro are a big club and on paper, it looks a good point, but the way they are playing at the minute, it looks two points dropped, especially as PNE went a goal ahead.

After two draws, North End will be looking to get back on the winning trail against Barnsley at Deepdale this weekend.

The Tykes are down in the bottom three after just winning promotion from League One.

I remember being at York City last season and we played Barnsley in pre-season and they were unbelievable.

They smashed us and I told all my mates to get some money on them for promotion, which they did.

I am sure they will soon find their feet at Championship level, but Preston will be looking at this as a game to win.