Sean Gregan’s exclusive Preston North End column: A decent week at Deepdale
Hand on heart I think most Preston North End fans would have taken four points from the last two home games.
Beating league-leaders Norwich and then drawing with Nottingham Forest, who have spent a good few quid in the transfer market, for me represents a decent return.
The 0-0 draw with Forest wasn’t pleasing on the eye and you can get games like that on the back of a really good performance.
It looks like North End expended so much effort and energy last Wednesday night that it caught up with them a little bit.
Quite a few times during my career I can remember similar happening.
You would play well on the Wednesday night, get a good win and look forward to the next one on Saturday.
Thursday would just be a recovery session, Friday you’d go through your shape and set-pieces – just a quick run through – then you were into the Saturday game all of a sudden.
More often than not it was a mental thing, rather than not being physically right.
What North End will do here is look at the big picture and rightly so. They are unbeaten in seven games and have moved up the division quietly.
Earlier in the season they showed they could put a good unbeaten run together and now they are doing so again.
Looking back to the win against Norwich, what a good result that was. City are a very good side yet for long spells in the first half North End were all over them.
When Norwich came back at them in the second half, PNE dug in to defend, showing both sides of their game.
The result knocked the Canaries off the summit of the table, although they went back there on Saturday.
Against Forest, North End came up against a team with a much different set-up.
That is the nature of the Championship, there seem to be a lot of different styles of play and each offers up a different kind of test.
Forest are well-drilled and organised, Martin O’Neill having stamped his mark on the club over the last month.
O’Neill is quite old-school as a manager but his record shows how well organised his teams can be and how they get results.
He used a 4-4-2 against Preston and that proved to be effective in keeping things tight and stopping PNE from finding their rhythm. North End have a clear midweek – and that will be a welcome one – before they head to Millwall on Saturday.
Last season, the London side were up there with PNE in play-off contention but this year have got dragged into a relegation scrap.
Millwall have been going well in the FA Cup though, and are through to the last eight after winning at AFC Wimbledon.
The fact that they will have to go on the attack as the home side could well suit North End, in that it opens up the opportunity to play on the counter-attack.
It will be a tough game but I see no reason why Preston can’t bring something back.