Talking points from Preston North End's victory over Wigan Athletic at Deepdale
A week is a long time in football, that being the case for Preston North End as they put the disappointment of defeat at Millwall to one side with victory over Wigan Athletic, a convincing one at that.
The 3-0 win at Deepdale certainly lifted spirits and had plenty to please the PNE faithful.
1. Louis Moult and Daniel Johnson played key roles in the win but could well have been elsewhere had things worked out differently.
Charlton Athletic had been eyeing up Moult, with Johnson the subject of a loan enquiry from Wigan.
It is fair to say Wigan got a close-up view of Johnson’s talents as he excelled in the No.10 role – more advanced than has tended to play in Alex Neil’s reign.
That could well be a better use of him, in an area of the pitch where he can get on the ball and be creative.
Moult led the attack very well, causing problems for Wigan’s centre-backs Daniel Fox and Cedric Kipre.
A week earlier, he had not even been in the squad which had travelled to Millwall.
Yet here he was making his first start since before Christmas and scoring his first goal in a competitive game for eight months.
What Moult has lacked at North End is a consistent run of games. Some matches won’t suit his style but maybe the time has come for him to see more action.
2. Sean Maguire had a lot more joy playing on the left than he had down up front on the opening day.
A run inside the first few minutes which ended in him winning a corner, set the tone for his afternoon.
The Irishman prefers to play as a centre forward but that needs North End to get him forward facing rather than playing with his back to the defence and holding the ball up in the manner Moult or Jayden Stockley would.
Ironically his goal to give Preston the lead came in the style of a No.9, meeting a Paul Gallagher corner at the near post to steer home a header.
He worked well down the left side though, seeing a lot of the ball and Maguire had licence to drift inside and be a presence in the box.
As Alex Neil was to point out a lot of Maguire’s early games for Preston two years ago came in that wider role, feeding-off Jordan Hugill.
After only three goals in an injury-hit season last time, for Maguire to be off the mark is a big positive.
3. PNE’s clean sheet was most welcome and Declan Rudd worked hard to shut Wigan out. He made two key saves in the space of about 90 seconds with the score 1-0.
Those were the pick of the bunch, two or three more in the second half somewhat more comfortable. This was North End’s first clean sheet since the shut-out against Ipswich on Good Friday.
With a question mark against the keeper role over the summer, this display won’t have done Rudd any harm at all.
4. Ben Pearson got his first booking of the season for a challenge on Lee Evans but did his reputation go before him? He appeared to get the ball first but referee Jeremy Simpson produced yellow.