Jayden Stockley hoping Preston North End cameo role against Blackburn will pay dividends
Jayden Stockley has played a waiting game at Preston this season and will be hoping his game-changing appearance off the bench in the win over Blackburn can signal a switch in fortune.
The big striker joined the action in the 29th minute with PNE trailing 2-0.
That introduction was the earliest tactical substitution Alex Neil had made in his North End tenure.
It worked, Stockley going on to be a real handful for the Rovers defence.
The former Exeter man played a part in the build-up to all three Preston goals as they turned the Lancashire derby on its head.
Playing long to Stockley was a tactic North End took a little while to grasp, with him not having too much joy in the quarter-of-an-hour or so he was on in the first half.
In the second half, though, he was dominant, winning 13 headers in his battle with the Rovers defence.
Lilywhites manager Neil said: “You could see our intent of playing it up to Jayden from kick-off in the second half.
“All credit to Jayden and the rest of the lads because I thought our performance in the second half was excellent.
“Changing strategy was a case of giving the lads the best possible chance in the second half.
“I’m here to win games and I’ll change strategy in a game to do that if necessary.”
This was Stockley’s seventh appearance in the league this season, his only start among them being against Sheffield Wednesday in August.
Time on the pitch has been limited for the 26-year-old, with Neil choosing to go with more of a possession-based game this season.
That has seen him opt more for pace up front rather than a targetman option which Poole-born Stockley offers.
He had come on as sub in the games with Barnsley and Reading either side of the international break, but stayed on the bench against Leeds last week.
For the matches with Bristol City and Middlesbrough, Stockley did not make the bench – until then he had been in every matchday squad since January’s £750,000 arrival from Exeter.
Whether Stockley makes the starting XI at Charlton on Sunday remains to be seen.
Neil likes to weigh up what the opposition are likely to do before deciding on his best side for the occasion.
Against Blackburn, he had started with Tom Barkhuizen up front. David Nugent had done that job for the three games before.