Talking points from Preston North End's victory over Brentford
Preston North End’s victory against Brentford moved them up the heady heights of fifth place in the Championship and sent the Deepdale faithful home happy.
It was a fourth league win of the season – all at home – and offered lots of optimism for the weeks ahead.
Here are four of the talking points from North End's 2-0 victory over the Bees.
1. No Pearo.... but there was a party.
Illness ruled Ben Pearson out of the game but North End managed just fine without him.
There were anxious looks when Pearson’s name was missing from the team sheet, his place in midfield going to Ryan Ledson.
We know Ledson can do the tackling side of the game, sometimes a bit too much, but could he help build the play like Pearson could?
The answer was ‘yes he could’, and in his 55 minutes on the pitch the Scouser served his team effectively.
It was Ledson’s cross into the box which set up Sean Maguire for Preston’s early opener, with him having been first to the ball when a corner was cleared out of the box by the visitors.
Paul Gallagher replaced him as Alex Neil went for a slightly different approach in the second half but it was a good day’s work from the former Oxford United man.
2. A second clean sheet in the league was a welcome one for North End.
Their one previous shut-out had come in the 3-0 win over Wigan.
The back four were very disciplined throughout, there not being many times when Brentford got behind them. Yes, the Bees had chances in the match but mainly with efforts from in and around the edge of the penalty area.
Patrick Bauer was named man of the match having been commanding at the heart of the defence.
The Big Friendly German is proving to be an astute piece of business in these first few weeks of the season are anything to go by.
Ben Davies was his usual reliable self next to Bauer and a word here for the two full-backs Darnell Fisher and Joe Rafferty.
Fisher was excellent in the right-back slot and got an assist for Tom Barkhuizen’s 70th minute goal.
On the other side of the field Rafferty’s performance again meant Andrew Hughes wasn’t missed. It will be good to see Hughes back fit - he is not far away - but Rafferty is doing just fine.
It was his cross field pass which found Fisher who in turn set-up Barkhuizen.
3. Alex Neil wore his best poker face at Thursday’s press conference when he spoke of the likelihood of Maguire and Barkhuizen missing the game.
Both front men made it, both scored. Neil chose to play Barkhuizen through the middle with Maguire on the outside of him.
Not having to battle against the centre-halves gives Maguire the chance to do some damage from the wider role – the Irishman has the freedom to move inside as he did for the goal.
4. Preston’s three subs worked well.
Gallagher lent his experience to the side at 1-0, while Josh Harrop provided fresh legs and a threat on the left - joining the action five minutes before PNE made it 2-0.
Brad Potts teamed-up with Fisher to solidify the right side towards the end, denying Rico Henry the opportunity to get up the pitch as Brentford tried to salvage something from the game.