Sean Gregan’s exclusive column: Good Friday victory was a tonic for the Lilywhites

Preston’s 4-0 win against Ipswich on Good Friday was the perfect tonic for Alex Neil’s men after their difficult run of late.

Sunday, 21st April 2019, 6:00 pm
Preston North End's Lukas Nmecha (2nd from right) celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal

It might not have meant too much at either end of the table, with the play-offs all but beyond North End and Ipswich already relegated.

But what it will have done is got some confidence back into PNE and hopefully help them finish the season very strongly.

A 4-0 win at any time of the season is pleasing and the supporters enjoyed this one in the sunshine.

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Both goals from Callum Robinson were great finishes and it is good to see the lad back in action after a lengthy injury lay-off.

When you come back from a serious injury, it can take a few games to get your confidence back.

If you’ve broken your leg, you are waiting for that first strong tackle to test it out.

With Robinson, it was his hamstring and he will have been testing himself to see how fast he could go without feeling anything.

If he can get a couple more goals before the end of the season, that will do him the world of good.

The message from Alex Neil to his players will be to finish the season strongly.

The run of four defeats ended their top-six hopes and no doubt dented their confidence a touch.

It was unfortunate that three of the games were against teams in the top four, one after the other.

They needed six or seven points from them and got nothing.

That will be a lesson learned for the squad and for Neil, showing them where they need to improve.

Two of the sides who beat them, Sheffield United and Leeds, are locked in a battle for the second automatic promotion place.

I’ll assume that Norwich are going to win the title but then it’s a straight race for second between the Blades and Leeds.

Both have a couple of tough fixtures in there, Leeds play Aston Villa next week and Sheffield United’s final game is at Stoke City.

It will be interesting to see who can hold their nerve to get the points needed.

For North End, it’s off to Wigan on Easter Monday.

Wigan gave their survival hopes a huge boost by beating Leeds 2-1, a result which was a massive coupon buster.

It should be a decent game down there and hopefully Preston can give a large away support plenty to cheer.

I’ve got good but painful memories of Preston’s 1-0 win there in April 2000.

The result was a big one in terms of us being promoted and we all felt it was going to happen after that.

But I ended up breaking my back in the game!

I stooped down to try and head the ball and one of the Wigan players went in with his foot.

He kicked my shoulder blade and the way I twisted snapped something off my spine. I saw the surgeon the next day and he likened it to something you would get in a car crash.

We kept the severity of it under wraps but I didn’t play again that season.