Preston North End are formidable frontrunners

Tom Barkhuizen is hoping Preston take the lead this weekend against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Friday, 28th February 2020, 4:00 pm

If they do, then there’s a strong likelihood that they will not lose the game.

So far this season in the 17 games that North End have gone in front, they have finished up earning at least a point and in many cases all three.

The impressive statistic is not just relevant to this season – in previous campaigns, Alex Neil have proven to be formidable front runners.

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Preston North End's Tom Barkhuizen chases the ball against Wigan. He scored the opening goal of the match and PNE went on to win

As the club’s leading goalscorer with 11 goals to his name, Barkhuizen will be one of the men tasked with trying to get North End off to a good start.

“I saw a stat the other day that if we go in at half-time in the lead, we have not lost in 35 games or something like that which is an incredible achievement,” Barkhuizen said.

“At this level, we have found that if you go in front, you have a very good chance of winning the game.

“That’s why we try so hard in the first 20 minutes or so to get the first goal because it is incredibly important.

“Teams are so hard to brea down – it can be impossible to break a team down when they have gone in front.

“You might try everything possible like throwing the big man on or the quick man or the technicians.

“We seem to have become one of those teams where if we do score first, we are incredibly difficult to break down.

“We show that much fight and that much endeavour, we put ourselves in the best possible position to get the points.

“I laugh about it, but we must be horrible to play against when we get the first goal.

“We don’t even sit in, we don’t camp on the edge of our box which a lot of teams do. We are just relentless and we don’t give up. If they do manage to get past us, we do have big men in the box who can defend.”

Meanwhile, North End youth-team players Tyrhys Dolan and Lincoln McFayden have joined Clitheroe on work experience loans.

The pair are going to Shawbridge on work experience deals which will allow them to still play for PNE’s youth team if required.

Attacking midfielder Dolan and Chorley-born defender McFayden both featured in the Under-18s recent run to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup where they were beaten by Blackburn Rovers.

Dolan, formerly on the books of Manchester City and Burnley, also played in PNE’s Lancashire FA Senior Cup clash with Rovers last month.

McFayden and Dolan are both aged 18 and are nearing the end of their second year as scholars.

They will join Jack Baxter at Clitheroe, the North End midfielder having joined the NPL First Division side in January on loan until the end of the season.

PNE now have 12 players out on loan or on work experience. Goalkeeper Michael Crowe joined Bamber Bridge on Friday.