For a player who has just scored his first Preston North End goal for 12-and-a-half years, David Nugent’s celebration against Fulham was rather understated.
No dash to the corner flag, no knee slide, just a punch of the air and a hug from his team-mates.
It wasn’t as if Nugent hadn’t enjoyed scoring, far from it. The simple fact is he didn’t have the energy!
“At my age I wasn’t going to go off celebrating wildly,” said Nugent who is in line to start against Luton at Deepdale this weekend.
“Maybe if I had scored in the first minute when I was fresh I would have more energy to celebrate.
“I remember Sean Maguire grabbing me and then Brad Potts coming over to celebrate.
“It was a big moment for me to score my first goal back here.
“Pottsy had a shot, the ball went up in the air and I went up with Alfie Mawson for a header.
“It dropped down and I tapped it in. I don’t score from outside the box these days so this was my typical range.
“I got told afterwards it was 4,623 days since my last Preston goal, that was at Coventry in April 2007.
“Some people reacted on social media like I had been at Preston all that time. In my defence, I was away for 12 years!
“The goal was a long time coming in terms of me coming back in the summer.
“I’ve only started three or four games, it’s been a bit stop-start because of injuries.
“My job is to score goals and help others score, to create them.
“We’ve had a lot of lads this season who have had a go up front.
“I’ve played up there, Tom Barkhuizen has, Sean Maguire, Jayden Stockley and Louis Moult have all had games. Hopefully I took my chance by scoring on Tuesday night and can be in the manager’s plans for Saturday.”
Nugent’s last goal in a PNE shirt before Tuesday was in a 4-0 victory over Coventry at the Ricoh Arena.
He played just three more games after that before landing a £6m move to Portsmouth, a club record sale which stood until January 2018.
“I remember that goal at Coventry very well,” said the 34-year-old.
“Chris Sedgwick crossed it and I got above their centre-half Robert Page to head it into the bottom corner.”
Nugent, though, did need some prompting about his last Preston goal on home soil from that era.
For the record it was in a 2-0 win over Burnley a week or so before he scored for England.
Said Nugent: “I can’t remember the last one at Deepdale. Was it Burnley? I always scored against them in the local derby.”
Nugent’s long-awaited goal in midweek helped see off Fulham, the 2-1 victory ending a run of four straight defeats.
It nudged North End back into the top six and was a most welcome win.
“It was a massive win, we’d had the four defeats all without scoring,” said Nugent.
“Hopefully it has got us back on track and we can push on from here.
“I didn’t think some our performances warranted a four-game losing run.
“The West Brom defeat was hard to take, the manner of it because we played very well.
“We’ve had quite a few injuries which have made things difficult.
“You’ve got to give lots of credit to the lads who have come in during the run of injuries.
“Paul Huntington hasn’t been involved all season but against Fulham he was a colossus.
“Patrick Bauer came back in after missing a couple of games and he dealt with Mitrovic really well.
“Andrew Hughes has just come back in after a while out.
“Others were still out but they are coming back in drips and drabs.”
The Championship is developing into a tight battle from the play-off places downwards.
Leeds and West Brom have pulled away at the top but five points separate Fulham in third place and Millwall in 13th.
Nugent said: “A few results went our way on Tuesday and Wednesday which was good.
“Leeds and West Brom are pulling clear and will be a tough ask to catch them.
“We need to stay in the play-off places by being consistent.
“We want to keep our strong home form going and we are at Deepdale again on Saturday.
“Luton have struggled for form a bit, but we won’t under-estimate them.
“They will come here to work hard to try to get a win.
“We’ve played most teams now and we’ve in the main done well.
“We gave Leeds a good game and got a point, we gave West Brom a good game and should have got something.
“Our away form is an area we certainly improve on, we haven’t picked up as many points on the road as we would have liked. That is something to change.”