As first goals of the season go, Paul Gallagher’s effort for Preston against Wigan takes some beating.
The midfielder curled home a beauty from the corner of the box to clinch a 3-0 win last week.
Not surprisingly it gave Gallagher a huge deal of satisfaction, crafted from those extra few minutes on the training pitch at the end of sessions.
He touched a free-kick to Daniel Johnson who stopped the ball under his foot and stepped aside, Gallagher sending a shot into the far top corner.
Up and running for the season, he now wants to add to his tally.
Gallagher said: “It was all right wasn’t it?
“I’d had a few chances in the game which hadn’t gone in but I fancied my chances with that one.
“Free-kicks are one of my crafts, something I have practiced for years.
“I’m one of the first out and last in after training, they often have to drag me in because I like to stay out and practice free-kicks and penalties – things which might pop up and benefit the team.
“My connection with the ball for the goal was good, as soon as I hit the ball it felt good.
“The reason I did the little touch to DJ was to try and shift the keeper, give myself an angle and more of the goal to aim at.
“I did similar against Middlesbrough at their place last season, it was Andrew Hughes who I worked it with then.
“It worked well then so why not do it again?
“All week my little lad has been watching it back and asking me how I did that, I just told him I’d been doing it for years!
“Sometimes you can be a bit far out to try a shot so in those circumstances I just aim for the back post.
“There’s a chance that someone will get on the end of it or the ball can beat everyone and fly in at the far post.
“That happened a few years ago when we beat Huddersfield here.
“It was nice to see the goal against Wigan go in, importantly it made it 3-0 and helped get us the three points.
“We needed that after losing at Millwall on the first day.
“With that win and the victory at Bradford, you can see the confidence coming out of the players.
“Now we’ve got to go and produce more of the same at Swansea.”
After the opening-day loss to Millwall, it’s been a good week for PNE.
The two victories were achieved with different starting XIs as Alex Neil used the full depth of the Preston squad.
Gallagher was able to put his feet up and watch the win at Bradford from the main stand, his job done in the Wigan game.
Assessing the opening fortnight of the campaign, Gallagher said: “I would have liked us to have won all three games.
“That is just me being greedy and because we set ourselves high standards here.
“At Millwall I felt we were comfortable in the game, we knew they would be physical and a team who would turn the ball forward when they could.
“We gave away a sloppy goal and after that couldn’t break them down.
“Our football was okay but tended to break down near to the penalty area.
“Everything clicked for us in the Wigan game, which was great.
“We want our form at home to be better because it hasn’t been as strong as it once was.
“It was then nice to go to Bradford and win in the manner we did.
“The fact the manager was able to change the full team shows the strength in depth here.
“In training we play 11 V 11 and sometimes there are lads who can’t fit into that because we have too many players. The competition for places is good, there’s a good balance of players.
“I’m nearly 35 and it is keeping me on my toes, helping bring the best out of me.
“The two lads who came in recently, Andre Green and Tom Bayliss, are quality players.
“Andre’s goal the other night will help him settle, he’s someone who won promotion to the Premier League last season.
“The club spent a few quid on Tom who looks a really good prospect.
“He’s looked good in training and played well at Bradford.”
PNE fans face one of their longest trips of the season on Saturday when they head to Swansea. Neither the Liberty Stadium or Swansea’s former Vetch Field home have been happy hunting grounds for Preston down the years.
Bringing back three points from South Wales would be a huge boost ahead of back-to-back home league games.
Said Gallagher: “We want to try and get our away record going, last season we went to some big clubs and won there.
“Swansea were playing in the Premier League two years ago and still have some big names – I saw that Andre Ayew scored a couple the other night.
“We played down there this time last year and lost 1-0 – I thought we played well in the second half.”