Four talking points from Preston North End's 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town at Deepdale
Preston North End put Huddersfield Town to the sword at Deepdale, a victory they can savour during the latest international break.
For more than an hour of the clash Alex Neil’s men were the dominant force, taking a three -goal lead.
The Terriers pulling a goal back with 16 minutes left might the final stages a little nervy but overall it was a very strong performance.
Here are some talking points from the win which kept PNE in second place.
1. North End’s push to the Championship’s top two has been a squad game.
This win underlined that, with Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson restricted to the role of spectators.
Pearson’s influence in the deep midfield role and that of top-scorer Johnson, who is a creative force, could very easily have been missed.
But North End got on with the job without them and made light of their absence.
There were five different starters to the side which won the first home game of the season against Wigan in August – that shows how a team evolves and changes from game to game.
2. The ‘fine wine’ analogy has been used a few times in relation to Paul Gallagher.
His performance against Huddersfield was another vintage from the 35-year-old.
Gallagher’s free-kick hit the post, Jayden Stockley on hand to head the rebound home for the opener.
He was involved in the build-up for the second, then scored from the penalty spot for the third.
PNE missed his presence in the final 20 minutes when Gallagher was subbed due to a knock.
The midfielder now has a fortnight to rest those legs and get ready for the run of games ahead.
3. Jayden Stockley again had a big influence on the game.
It was only recently that Alex Neil was having to urge the striker to be patient in his wait for a first-team chance.
Neil said that chance would come and indeed it has. Stockley turned the game against Blackburn when he came on as sub.
Rewarded with a start at Charlton, he was Preston’s go-to man with the long ball.
On Saturday, North End were less direct than they had been at The Valley, with the emphasis on moving the ball wide and then using Stockley’s height by putting crosses into the box.
It was good to see him get a goal – his first of the season and fifth overall in a Preston shirt – less than four minutes played when he netted.
There will be games which suit another approach up front but at the moment, Stockley is pressing his claim for a run of matches.
4. Successful teams put together good runs and this was a third victory on the spin for PNE.
That was the first time they had done that in the league this season.
Neil’s men are four games unbeaten, the 1-1 draw with Leeds giving way to these three wins.
If they can find a way to get a quicker than usual start after the international break, there is no reason why they can’t stretch this run.
It’s away at Derby and then Hull, until then they can recharge their batteries.