North End’s season burst into life in spectacular style with a convincing 3-0 home win over near neighbours Wigan Athletic,
The boys had been nursing a severe first-day hangover after last week’s defeat at Millwall but the fuzzy head had well and truly cleared as PNE gave a performance of commitment, passion and endeavour in every position.
A goal in the opening few minutes from Maguire, followed by Louis Moult opening his account five minutes before the break, put North End two up, and Gally to wrapped the game up with a classy free-kick routine 10 minutes into the second half.
That had some of the travelling contingent of 2,945 packing their flags away and going home before quarter past four. I thought the most difficult job of the day was to pick the man of the match as I can’t remember the last time so many candidates were in with a shout.
Alex Neil made four changes to the side beaten at Millwall last Saturday with Fisher, Bodin, Johnson and Moult coming in for Clarke, Browne, Barkhuizen and Potts.
He kept with the same 4-2-3-1 formation and it paid dividends when the unchallenged Maguire glanced the ball into the far corner of the net to give Preston the crucial first goal.
North End looked threatening with the ball and it was no surprise when Moult opened his account for the season with a cushioned header from a pinpoint Daniel Johnson cross and PNE went into the break two up.
Wigan came out to have a go in the second half but in all honesty,
Preston were countering everything Latics were throwing at them and with just under 10 minutes of the second half gone the game was over. We won a free-kick on the left angle of the Town End penalty box and Gally tipped the ball to Johnson, who returned the favour for Gally to hit the most sublime curling shot into the far corner of the net and start the exodus in the away end. Alex Neil brought on Clarke,
Browne and Stockley for Fisher, Gallagher and Moult as North End eased their way through the remainder of the game. Wigan had two or three shots on target but Declan Rudd was more than up to anything that the visitors threw at him in what was one of his most accomplished performances in a Prestonshirt.
So after a traumatic week on and off the field the boys put the record straight with the kind of performance that gives real hope for the season ahead.
Irrespective of this result North End are still lightweight in some areas of the field and only time will tell if last week was a real missed window of opportunity.
One thing is for sure and that is that the boys were certainly in the right mental state of mind and great credit must go to the manager and his staff for putting this week behind them and coming out and turning in an excellent performance in this first home league game of the season. The win takes North End into the top ten but let’s not get excited.