Happy Hugill has goals on his mind

Jordan Hugill bagged North End's winner against Wigan at Deepdale
Jordan Hugill bagged North End's winner against Wigan at Deepdale
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Jordan Hugill is happy to put quantity above quality in terms of goals after finding the net in contrasting styles in successive home games.

The 24-year-old front man was Preston North End’s match winner against Wigan Athletic on Friday night.

It was a fortuitous goal by his own admission, an early shot from Aiden McGeady hitting him on the knees and wrong-footing Latics keeper Adam Bogdan.

But they all count and the statistics will just show that it was Hugill’s 10th goal in a North End shirt.

In the previous home game against Cardiff City, he had curled home a beauty of a finish from 20 yards.

As a striker, it is going to be the closer-range goals which come along a lot more often.

Hugill told the Evening Post: “Friday’s goal was a bit different to the last one in the Cardiff game.

“I didn’t know too much about it but I will take a few of those every season.

“It doesn’t matter how the ball goes into the net, they all count.

“Maybe the goal was the type of luck we needed, we hadn’t been getting too much luck for a while.

“You get shots hitting you in most games, quite often the ball will come off you and fly wide but against Wigan, it went into the net.

“It was brilliant to see it go in and that felt as good as when I bent the shot into the top corner the other week.

“Aiden McGeady is not trying to claim it – I’m not letting him!”

Hugill should have been celebrating a second goal shortly after half-time when an Alan Browne through ball put him clear on goal.

He went for placement rather than power and that gave Bogdan the chance to make a save.

“It was a good chance, I’ll be honest about that,” said Hugill.

“I tried to put it back across goal but the keeper got to it and tipped it around the post.

“I’m happy with the one I scored because it got us the victory and hopefully there are more to come.”

The Preston squad were able to draw breath over the weekend after a week in which they were up and down like a fiddler’s elbow.

A week last Saturday, they were on the end of the 5-0 mauling at Brentford, a low point for all the players in their time at the club.

A rotated side headed to the south coast to face Bournemouth in the League Cup last and beat their top-flight opponents 3-2.

Then it was back to Deepdale for the Wigan clash, the 1-0 win their first victory over Latics on home soil for more than 21 years.

The squad got the day off on Saturday before reporting for training on Sunday morning to start their preparations for Tuesday night’s visit to Birmingham City.

“We have got some momentum from the last two results and both wins were a good way to bounce back from what happened at Brentford,” said Hugill. “It shows what football can do to you – we were all so low the other week.

“On the Sunday, the gaffer had us in to talk through the game and do some work on the training pitch, going over things we needed to do better.

“The gaffer made a lot of changes for Bournemouth and that shows you how ready the squad is – all those lads slotted straight back in and got a great result.

“There were a few changes against Wigan and again, we managed to get the win.

“Those two wins have hopefully got us going in the right direction and now we need to get a good result at Birmingham.

“We had Saturday off and were back in on Sunday to start the build-up.”

The win against Wigan was achieved despite being on the back foot for large parts of the contest.

Possession was 65-35 in the visitors’ favour, with North End doing plenty of defending after the early opener from Hugill.

He said: “We knew that Wigan would stay in the game because they have a lot of good players.

“We got behind the ball and defended, picking our moments to attack.

“Wigan had a lot of the ball but they didn’t have too many clear-cut chances.

“In the second half, I went over on my ankle chasing a ball and it was a bit sore.

“I got up and managed to play on, the gaffer was asking me how I was and whether I needed to come off, but I told him In was okay to carry on.

“In the end, I got through the whole game and felt fine.

“Sometimes you get these knocks in games and it is a case of battling through.”

Hugill had the company of Simon Makeinok up front on Friday evening.

It was Makienok’s first league start for Preston, a reward for his hat-trick at Bournemouth.

Hugill and Makienok had previously started August’s League Cup win over Oldham.

So what is it like playing alongside one of the league’s tallest players?

Said Hugill: “Simon is a big lad obviously and different to play alongside than the other strikers here.

“The partnership worked on Friday night and I thought that underlined the variety we have in the squad.

“Simon did very well in the Bournemouth game and got his reward with this start.

“Friday’s game was a lot different for him compared to Tuesday.

“Bournemouth dropped off us and let him have quite a bit of the ball.

“In the Championship, you don’t get that, defenders go into the back of you and don’t mind giving you a smash in the back.

“Simon played for more than 70 minutes which was pretty good considering he had done 120 minutes a few days before at Bournemouth.”

With the ink recently dried on a new contract and this his third season with PNE, this is an important campaign for Hugill.

The former non-league footballer has been steadily establishing himself in the plans of Simon Grayson.

With Joe Garner sold to Rangers last month and a hamstring strain now having ruled Jermaine Beckford for four weeks, there have been opportunities opening up.

Hugill said: “I have been involved in most of the games this season and have scored three goals.

“In the summer I worked really hard to make sure I came back for pre-season in the best shape possible.

“I wanted to give myself the best chance to make an impact.”