Seven talking points from Preston North End's 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale

Preston North End’s derby win against Blackburn Rovers was one of those games when you needed time to draw breath before assessing it.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 26th October 2019, 11:36 pm
Preston boss Alex Neil with Alan Browne and Ben Pearson at the final whistle
Preston boss Alex Neil with Alan Browne and Ben Pearson at the final whistle

What didn’t need too much assessment was the difference in PNE’s display between the first half and second half.

In the first 45 minutes they looked like a bunch of strangers, thrown together at the last moment.

After the interval though, on show was the North End spirit which has served them so well this season.

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Preston striker Jayden Stockley at the final whistle against Blackburn

Here are some of the big talking points from the thrilling 3-2 win at Deepdale.

1. Jayden Stockley’s arrival from the bench after less than half an hour was to help turn the game.

The big striker has not had a great deal of first-team action this season, indeed he didn’t make the matchday squad for a couple of games.

That has been due to North End manager Alex Neil taking a different approach going forward and results to date show his judgement has been sound.

Jayden Stockley replaces Paul Gallagher in the 29th minute against Blackburn

This was an occasion though, when PNE required something different. They went direct, turned it into a battle and Stockley shone.

The lad can play too but in this one it was his power and height which changed things.

Other games might not suit the former Exeter City man but the circumstances on Saturday suited him richly.

2. Tom Barkhuizen is a key cog in Preston’s works.

Tom Barkhuizen heads PNE's first goal against Blackburn

Whether it be goals, his pace or assists, Barkhuizen is one of the first names Neil writes on the team sheet.

His double strike against Rovers took him to seven for the season – five of those in the Championship.

He was the man in the right place in midweek against Leeds and scored his first on Saturday at the same post.

Barkhuizen’s second was a joy to watch, opening his body up to curl home a finish of the highest order.

Tom Barkhuizen in action against Blackburn at Deepdale

He might not be Preston’s poster boy in the way others are but the 26-year-old has consistently delivered the goods under Neil.

3. Ben Davies was badly missed by PNE.

A player as good as Davies will always be missed to some degree but he was especially so in this one.

The Barrow boy last sat out a league game in January and it was a shock not to see his name on the team sheet.

His place went to Andrew Hughes, who Neil preferred ahead of Jordan Storey next to Patrick Bauer.

Neil’s reasoning was that he wanted a left-footer in the left central defensive slot to give the balance Davies does.

Daniel Johnson equalises from the penalty spot for Preston against Blackburn at Deepdale

He was also mindful that with Joe Rafferty at left-back, another right-footed player in defence wasn’t ideal.

Hughes was out of sorts, so too most of his colleagues before the break. In the end PNE got away with, Hughes stronger in the second half.

Storey, last season's young player of the year, is having to be patient in his wait for a chance.

4. Almost forgotten in the comeback was the penalty from Daniel Johnson.

He scored for the fifth time from the spot and the eighth time overall this season.

Cool as a cucumber, DJ took his time before taking the penalty – there was two minutes from it being given to him stepping-up!

5. The togetherness in the Preston squad is often spoken about and that could be seen with the goal celebrations.

When Barkhuizen curled home his stunning winner, the first to get over to congratulate him were substitutes Brad Potts and David Nugent.

Both had been benched after starting against Leeds in midweek but there was no sign of them sulking as they broke off their warm-up to embrace Barkhuizen.

It was the same against Leeds, among the first to give Barkhuizen a hug was Andre Green. Spirit and togetherness can go along way.

6. The tone of respective managers Tony Mowbray and Neil contrasted greatly in the post-match press conference.

Neil held his hand up and admitted North End's approach in the first half hadn't worked, his introduction of Stockley before the half-hour mark showed that,

Of course after a win it is easier to analysis it but there was an honesty about him.

Mowbray was naturally downbeat after a defeat but a few different people got it in the neck from him - referee Stephen Martin, some of the Preston players, his own goalkeeper Christian Walton for the first goal and even Neil if one of his quotes is taken a certain way.

7. Deepdale is proving to be Preston's stronghold this season.

In the Championship North End have played at home eight times in 2019/20. winning six and drawing two.

That is strong form to say the least and if they can add a few more points on the road, there are the building blocks there to a good season.

It will be a tough one against Charlton Athletic at The Valley next Sunday lunchtime in front of the cameras, however PNE go to the capital in good heart.