A goal in either half and a very workmanlike performance gave PNEall three points against Brentford at Deepdale.
Sean Maguire, after five minutes, and Tom Barkhuizen, 20 minutes from the end, ensured that North End kept their 100% home record making it four wins out of four in the league for Alex Neil’s boys.
I doubt if this game will stay long in the memory of the 12,863 inside Deepdale but a professional, hardworking display meant that North End now sit fifth in the league table with 13 points from seven league games.
Both teams had plenty of the ball and the opportunity to create chances but shots on target were few and far between, the difference being that North End made their two best chances count. We looked solid on the day particularly at the back where the partnership of Patrick Bauer and Ben Davies appears to be getting better by the game and all in all I don’t think even the most partisan Bees supporter could deny that North End were good value for all three points. Preston started with their usual 4-2-3-1 but with Barkhuizen leading the line and Maguire playing wider out on the left.
One name missing from the team sheet was that of Ben Pearson who was missing with a virus and it is fair to say North End did miss him somewhat in the centre of the park. We started the game well and had an early shout for a penalty turned down when Maguire went down in the box.
However we hadn’t long to wait for the opening goal when Ryan Ledson put a beautiful ball into the box for Maguire to chest down and poke it past Raya in the Brentford goal to give North End an early lead.
Fair play to Thomas Frank and his team because they had come to Deepdale to play football and not park the bus. Declan Rudd just had one goal bound effort to save before the break as a well struck shot moved slightly in the air but the North End keeper got both hands to it and ensured that the boys went in at the break one goal up. Gallagher, Harrop and – after the second goal – Potts, were introduced for North End and to be fair we looked a little more comfortable with Gally conducting the orchestra. A big win then for North End as this second small phase of the season gets under way with another positive result.
It is becoming quite clear that having Harrop and Bodin fit this season is helping the boys along even though Bodin is only playing for around the hour mark at the moment.
I thought Josh Harrop looked hungry and full of energy when he came on and this lad appears to have an older head on young shoulders. Special mention, too, for Darnell Fisher.
A clear week for North End before next Saturday trip to St Andrews followed three days later by a visit to Deepdale from Manchester City in the cup. But there is work to do in the Midlands before that and I am sure Alex Neil will be keeping the boys’ feet firmly on the ground.