Preston North End in Numbers: How PNE are getting the better of the opening stages but conceding goals late on

Ben Davies celebrates his early goal against Norwich on Wednesday night
Ben Davies celebrates his early goal against Norwich on Wednesday night
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Alex Neil credited Preston North End’s fast start as being key to their big win over Norwich at Deepdale on Wednesday night.

It is something every team strives for and can make a huge difference in any game.

On this occasion Ben Davies rose to meet Paul Gallagher’s free-kick just one minute and 41 seconds into the meeting with the then Championship leaders.

Come the end of play, PNE were 3-1 winners and Leeds had jumped up to top spot.

It was a ninth goal of the season for North End inside the first 15 minutes of games, which isn’t a bad return.

The more remarkable stat comes at the other end though, the Lilywhites still not having conceded a goal in the first quarter-of-an-hour of any Championship game this season.

During the difficult start to the campaign the odds would surely dictate that the backline had been breached early on at some point?

Not so. In fact, the only goal against in the opening stages of a game came in the FA Cup third-round defeat to Doncaster at the start of the calendar year.

On that occasion it was John Marquis who set League One Rovers on their way to a 3-1 victory at Deepdale in the fifth minute.

If PNE have been solid early on in matches then things are a little different later on in games.

The final 15 minutes are where Neil’s men have shipped the most goals, 18 in total across the season in both league and cup.

Two of those have come in the last few days.

First Clayton Donaldson struck to set up a nervy finale at the University of Bolton Stadium, with Declan Rudd pulling off a sharp late save to make sure of 2-1 win over Wanderers on Saturday.

And then against Norwich the prolific Teemu Pukki was on target in stoppage time with what proved to be a mere consolation goal.

On both occasions Neil was clearly frustrated that his in-form side had not managed to keep a clean sheet.

The reality is, though, little can take away from the run PNE find themselves on, having won four of their last six games in the Championship. They host Nottingham Forest on Saturday looking to continue that streak and close the eight-point gap to the play-offs.

One stat underlines their upturn in fortunes after a difficult start to the campaign.

Since the start of October only the top three of Leeds, Norwich and Sheffield United have picked up more Championship points.

North End’s haul of 38 is matched by Bristol City.