Preston North End 1 Blackpool 0 - Dave Seddon's verdict: Cameron Archer joins an exclusive goalscorers' club

If Cameron Archer didn’t know a great deal about Preston North End’s rivalry with Blackpool before this week, he certainly does now.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 8:00 am

With a swing of his left boot on Tuesday night, the young striker joined that exclusive club of PNE players who have put the ball in the Blackpool net and earned lifelong adulation from the faithful.

Micky Conroy and Tom Clarke are two fellow members, scorers in 1-0 Deepdale wins like this one in 1994 and 2013 respectively.

Archer has his own little niche in that he was the first loan player to settle this derby in the Lilywhites favour, the deal struck with Aston Villa in January a great piece of business.

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Villa v Birmingham would have been the derby 20-year-old Archer had grown up with but in this moment in time, North End and Blackpool will be upper most in his thoughts.

He’d tried to familiarise himself with this Lancashire set-to by watching highlights of the reverse fixture earlier in the season which ended so differently for his temporary employers,

But nothing would have prepared him fully for this week’s clash, one performed under the lights in front of a packed house with the volume pumped up to the max.

The evening kick-off made for a better atmosphere than an afternoon, colour provided by the flares set off at two or three intervals during proceedings, the noise coming from 16,605 North Enders and 2,135 who travelled from the Fylde coast.

Preston North End striker Cameron Archer puts the ball in the Blackpool net at Deepdale

Deepdale erupted two minutes into the 11 added on at the end of the first-half, the whopping amount of stoppage-time resulting from a head injury suffered by visiting goalkeeper Dan Grimshaw.

It was his replacement from the bench, Chris Maxwell – once of this parish – who was beaten by Archer’s crisp low drive into the bottom corner as PNE counter-attacked from one box to another.

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Preston North End striker Cameron Archer celebrates with Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson

They’d counted down the days and had to wait a little longer than planned when the game was pushed back from before the international break to Tuesday which just happened to be the day Sir Tom Finney would celebrated his 100th birthday.

Fans honoured him by parading a huge surfer flag carrying his image across the Alan Kelly Town End before kick-off and then with applause in the seventh minute.

The players did their their bit to honour Sir Tom’s memory and delight the crowd by securing a first home league win over those from the Fylde coast since December 1999.

They’d won on home turf in the League Cup eight years ago but three meetings in the bread and butter of the league in PR1 had seen two 1-0 defeats and a 0-0 draw.

The Sir Tom Finney surfer flag is paraded by Preston North End fans on the Alan Kelly Town End

Victory was deserved, never mind what Neil Critchley claimed post-match about Blackpool being the better side.

Critchley’s men were held at arms’ length by the hosts, they didn’t manage a shot on target all night.

North End only put two on target themselves but Archer’s effort was enough to earn three points.

Their play in the first half was excellent, hassling Blackpool out of their stride and out of possession, putting together some impressive passages of play.

In the second 45 minutes they allowed Critchley’s men more of the ball but only in areas where it wasn’t going to hurt.

Victory followed two defeats and a goalless draw on the road, not since beating Bournemouth on March 5 had Ryan Lowe’s side played at home.

Preston North End defender Andrew Hughes challenges Blackpool's Callum Connolly

It was a third win in nine, well-timed after takeover talk had been high on the news agenda of late. It was good to be talking football again.

Lowe went back to 3-5-2 after his experiment with 4-3-3 at Derby and North End looked all the better for it.

Greg Cunningham’s return at left wing-back was a round peg in a round hole. Brad Potts’ work rate down the other side was excellent.

The midfield trio of Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Ben Whiteman, criticised on late, bossed the first half and stuck to their task in the second.

Sepp van den Berg, Pat Bauer and Andrew Hughes were strong at the back to the extent Daniel Iversen’s work was limited to catching crosses and dealing with flick-ons.

Archer combined with strike partner Emil Riis for the winner. Play was waved on after Keshi Anderson went to ground following minimal contact from Whiteman just outside the PNE box.

Potts played a pass up to Riis inside his own half, the Dane motoring forward up the right channel before playing a pass across the pitch to find the run of Archer.

His first touch took him to the edge of the box and perhaps slightly wider than intended, his second touch was a low shot through the legs of the covering Kenny Dougall and into the far corner.

PNE had hit the bar twice by then through an Andrew Hughes header and Brad Potts’ deflected cross, the goal very much with the run of play.

In the second half they were content to hold on to what they had but with an eye on a second goal via the counter-attack.

Archer scampered clear in stoppage-time but chose to shoot instead of playing in supporting team-mates, a touch of inexperience showing there.

We’ll let him off that one seeing as he had already put the ball in the Blackpool net and put a grin on the faces of those occupying three-and-a-half sides of Deepdale.