Jordan Storey looks back on his display against Aston Villa with a real sense of pride but also as something of a missed opportunity in terms of opening his scoring account in a Preston shirt.
Although centre-backs are not judged on goals, Storey would like to weigh in with a couple at PNE, as he did with former club Exeter.
The ball dropped his way in just the second minute of last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Villa at Deepdale.
Villa keeper Orjan Nyland had juggled and dropped a Paul Gallagher corner, with Storey first to the loose ball.
He slammed a first-time shot goalwards from six yards, only to see it bounce back off the bar.
Bearing in mind the power he got in the shot, it would not have been a surprise to see the frame of the goal still rattling at full-time.
Storey told the Post: “I don’t know how I missed to be honest.
“I had the power but I think I almost hit it too well.
“Maybe if I hadn’t caught it so well it would have found its way in.
“Hopefully the goals will come for me, although my main job is at the other end of the pitch.
“I scored twice for Exeter last season.
“My first goal was the winner away to Port Vale, it was quite a good one for me – a side-foot volley.
“At the time I thought it was a bit of a rarity but then I banged in another a few weeks later.
“If I’m up in the box for set-pieces I want to try and score, contribute to the team.
“Hopefully another chance will fall my way again and I can stick it away.”
Storey’s appearance in the Villa game was his ninth start for North End – a sixth in the Championship.
Ben Davies falling victim to the hamstring jinx had seen Storey replace him from the bench in the first half of Boxing Day’s defeat to Hull City.
So he was in from the start against Villa and their expensively assembled frontline.
Storey said: “It was a really good game to play in and we were just disappointed we didn’t come out of it with the three points.
“Saying that, there were loads of positives to take out of the performance and at the least the draw stopped the run of two defeats.
“We were pleased with how we performed and that we showed we are capable of playing like that despite being down to the bare bones.
“Credit to the young lads who came on at the end to make their debuts, that was a bonus for us and them.
“Tammy Abraham was in the Villa attack against us and playing against quality like that can only improve me as a player.”
North End kick off 2019 against Rotherham United at New York Stadium.
With the Millers having dropped into the bottom three, this is a game where PNE will be looking to open up more distance between themselves and their hosts.
Said Storey: “It will be a tough game but we will go there with confidence.
“Even though we will be without a lots of player, we go there looking to pick points up and be positive.
“At the moment quite a few lads are getting a chance to play and stake a place in the team – myself included.
“When that chance comes along, you have to take it and that is something I’m aiming to do.”
Storey’s rise to the North End first team has been a rapid one.
This time last year, he had not started a league game in his career.
He had been recalled from a loan spell at Dorchester to play in a Checkatrade Trophy game and then made a brief substitute’s appearance in League Two.
But not until February did Storey start in the league for the Grecians.
That was the start of a 15-game run in the team, one which saw Exeter reach the League Two play-off final.
His last game for them was the Wembley final, North End making their move for him in June and wrapping up a £500,000 deal.
He had to be patient when he first arrived in the North West, surviving on a diet of League Cup football for the first two months.
Storey’s first league game for North End came against West Bromwich Albion on September 29.
Six months on from him putting pen to paper, Storey is enjoying life a long way from home.
“I’m loving it up here, all the lads are good to be with,” said the Somerset lad.
“A big thing for me was how I would cope off the pitch rather than on it.
“I’ve settled in well, I get home every now and then to see family and friends or they come up here. This is a nice area to live in, there is plenty to do on our days off.
“A lot of the lads live close by so we sometimes get out together.
“It was a big step up for me coming here but I think I have taken it in stride .”