What looked a tough game on paper turned out to be a regulation victory against a side in the lower half of the Championship.
North End totally dominated the first half at Deepdale and went in deservedly two goals to the good. Huddersfield barely threatened Declan Rudd’s goal in the first 45 minutes while at the other end an early goal from Jayden Stockley and a second from Alan Brown saw PNE with clear daylight at the break.
In the second half the game was virtually put to bed when a Paul Gallagher penalty, our eighth of the season, was smashed home by the captain and although the Terriers got one back through Bacuna the result never looked in danger with the three points keeping North End in the automatic promotion slot going into the break.
Alex Neil made two changes to the side that started at Charlton – both enforced – with Ryan Ledson coming in for the suspended Ben Pearson and Gallagher replacing the injured Daniel Johnson in the centre of the park.
North End took the game to the visitors right from the start and when Stockley won a free-kick 25 yards out. Up stepped Gallagher and his free-kick hit the post only to fall nicely for the young centre-forward to head the ball into the net. It was a great start as PNE continued to dominate the play in all areas of the field.
It could have been two with Maguire having his sweeping shot blocked, however we didn’t have to wait long for number two as a cross from Barkhuizen found Alan Browne at the back post and his shot hit the keeper and went into the net.
It wasn’t long into the second period before North End were three up via captain Gallagher.
A Barkhuizen cross from the right struck a Huddersfield defender on the arm and Mr Eltringham had no hesitation whatsoever in pointing to the spot.
Gally placed the ball and took his usual six strides back before turning and crashing the ball down the middle past Grabara to make it three.
I thought North End had put a massive amount of effort into the first hour of the game as the visitors started to get more into a contest they had never really been in. Huddersfield pulled a goal back through Bacuna who was allowed to run far too easily at the North End defence.
I thought the game was good entertainment for the 16,038 inside Deepdale and with 3,213 making the 50 mile journey over to Lancashire there was a decent atmosphere inside the stadium on a dull autumnal afternoon.
Plenty of plus points in this display from North End and plenty to choose from for the man of the match.
My vote goes to Patrick Bauer who just seemed to be at the right place at the right time for North End and is proving to be an excellent acquisition to the squad.
Ten points from five games in this third phase of the season is promotion form although I am sure the manager will be preaching the ‘one game at a time’ mantra.
Nevertheless these are good times to be a North End fan.