Let's savour the moment of being top of the Championship: Preston fan John Roper reflects on the 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic

Jayden Stockley impressed once more for PNE
Jayden Stockley impressed once more for PNE

It was quite a special a special moment on Sunday afternoon in the away end at Charlton Athletic.

The 1,128 travelling fans were singing "We are top of the league" and with such gusto as if we were singing to the whole nation.

In fact we were and the lads on the pitched savoured the moment but only for a short while as they know there are plenty more rivers to be crossed before North End even start dreaming of reaching the promised land.

North End clinched the game with a penalty from Paul Gallagher just before the hour mark and North End managed the rest of the game out very satisfactorily.

It was not our best performance of the season but it was enough to see off a Charlton side still a bit naive in the ways of the Championship and in some respects Lee Bowyer had more than met his tactical match in the opposite dugout in the shape of Alex Neil.

North End huffed and puffed a bit in the first half but we always looked the more likely in my opinion to break the deadlock and so it came to pass in the end that we ran our fairly comfortable winners of a game that will go do in the memory for the result more than the performance.

Alex Neil made two changes to the team that started against Blackburn last week with Ben Davies coming in for Andrew Hughes and Jayden Stockley leading the line after coming on as sub last week and making so much difference.

The early exchanges belong to North End without troubling the Addicks defence too much. Darnell Fisher had a long rang free kick fairly easily saved and at the other end the home side saw a flicked on header go just past the post, Gallagher came on to replace the injured Daniel Johnson and his calmness on the ball seemed to settle the North End midfield a bit more.

A well placed cross saw Tom Barkhuizen with a header from about ten yards but the chance went begging and Charlton lived to fight another day.

Both sides had plenty of the ball but North End looked the more dangerous particularly down the flanks where Sean Maguire and Barkhuizen were getting through plenty of good work ably assisted by Stockley who I thought had a very decent game at Centre Forward.

After the break North End, kicking towards the travelling fans, started a little quicker and although some of the play was lateral we always looked calm on the ball with Patrick Bauer and BenDavies looking as solid as ever at the back.

North End were pressing with Maguire getting plenty of room down the left side and causing the home defence more than enough trouble with his twists and turns.

Just before the hour mark came the deciding moment in the game when Stockley was flattened in the Charlton box by Lockyer and referee Webb had absolutely no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

The ground went hush as Gallagher placed the ball on the spot because you just thought at that moment that one goal could easily win this game.

Six stride backwards and then turn and accelerate into the ball and crash it into the net. The away end went wild as the realisation that we were currently top of the section became apparent.

Charlton tried to throw everything froward but could not make any real impact and late on Barkhuizen should have sealed the game when cutting in from the right but unfortunately shot straight at the Charlton keeper.

It was a long day for many with the coaches leaving at 4:30am, but it was all worth it and we claimed the three points and ascended to the summit of the Championship even if it might only be for a few hours.

The manager was not taking anything for granted after the game and quite rightly praised his players for doing a professional job in what looked like a difficult fixture on paper before the game.

Plenty of plus performances for North End but I am going to give my man of the match to Stockley who I thought worked tirelessly throughout the game and never stopped trying even though he was running on empty at the end.

Hudderfield are next up at Deepdale before the third international break and if the current league position does not get some more fans on Deepdale I don`t know what will.

This is a team with no superstars but with plenty of passion and pride playing for each other and for the manager.

The two things which could seal the deal this term is some sensible financial support for the manager in January and another three or four thousand through the turnstiles every home game. Then, well....maybe, just maybe!