Alex Neil was heartened to see Preston keeper Declan Rudd in the headlines for the right reasons in the weekend win over Stoke City.
Rudd saved a 90th-minute penalty from Sam Clucas at the bet365 Stadium.
Although North End were 2-0 up at the time, his save from the spot made for a more comfortable last few minutes for PNE and their 2,041 travelling fans.
It has not been the best season for Rudd, with him dropping a high-profile clanger in December’s defeat at Birmingham.
Neil admitted it had ‘not been plain sailing’ for the 28-year-old this term.
Hence his delight at the penalty save which ensured North End’s first clean sheet since December 8, when they won 1-0 at Nottingham Forest.
“The penalty save was a key factor in the game, said Neil.
“Although it was late in the game there were another six minutes left and anything could have happened.
“It was important he got his hand to the ball and great he made a really good save.
“I was delighted for Declan because as we know, it has not always been plain sailing for him this season. So for him to have made a big contribution was great.”
It was Rudd’s second save from the spot this term – he kept out an Oli McBurnie penalty in August’s 1-0 defeat at Swansea.
Saturday’s game was Rudd’s 21st Championship start this season.
He spent eight games as a sub when Chris Maxwell was in possession of the gloves but got back in the team when Maxwell was sent off against Ipswich.
His competition now comes in the form of Connor Ripley who signed earlier in the month .
Ripley has been on the bench for the three matches since arriving from Middlesbrough.
Behind Rudd and Ripley in the keeper pecking order are Michael Crowe and Mathew Hudson.
North End are keen to get Crowe out on loan in order for him to get a regular run of first-team football.
Crowe, 23, travelled with the squad to Stoke and took part in the warm-up.
The week before at QPR, it was Hudson who made the trip as third-choice keeper.
Hudson is recently back from being on loan at Bury where he played four games in the first half of the season.
Crowe’s one appearance for North End was in the 3-1 defeat to Doncaster in the FA Cup.