Preston North End FANS’ PANEL VERDICT: John Roper

Declan Rudd arrives at Ashton Gate and I reckon he'll keep the No.1 shirt against Blackburn
Declan Rudd arrives at Ashton Gate and I reckon he'll keep the No.1 shirt against Blackburn

At last a fruitful day out for the 566 North End fans who made the journey to Ashton Gate as Preston put on some of last season’s style to claim all three points against the Robins.

The game wasn’t completely for the purists but PNE ran out deserved winners after getting it right in all three areas of the pitch.

A solid defensive line well led by Tom Clarke and a midfield looking in control for the most part, with Paul Gallagherproviding the creativity when it was required. Up front I thought Sean Maguire put in a hell of a shift and, with Callum Robinson and Tom Barkhuizen coming in from wide positions, we always looked a threat, particularly in the first half.

North End soaked up a bit of pressure towards the end but never really looked in danger after the Robinson goal that gave us the three points.

Two changes from the draw at Ipswich with Declan Rudd coming in for Chris Maxwell and Gallagher replacing Alan Browne.

It was the visitors who started the better. Then Robinson had an header early on and Barkhuizen had a couple of chances to e.

However 10 minutes from the break PNE were in the lead with a well worked move down the right-hand side. Daniel Johnson eventually found Robinson unmarked at the back post and the leading scorer made no mistake as he tapped home number nine of the season.

At this point I thought a second goal would completely see off the home side, who were booed off at half-time.

The game could have been over in the first couple of minutes as Barkhuizen and then Maguire had shots blocked in front of the travelling fans, who gave the boys fantastic support all afternoon.

More booing from the home support when two substitutions were made as Preston managed the game superbly well.

The Robins had a bit more of the ball as the second half wore on but it was Preston who always looked the more likely on the counter-attack.

In the final 10 minutes the home side threw the kitchen sink at North End but we stood solid with Rudd making the one good save from a Josh Brownhill free- kick. But we kept the clean sheet and grabbed the three points on a very satisfying afternoon in the West Country.

Only time will tell how big a win this was but with 13 points from the last seven games PNE are edging away from that drop zone at last.

I thought the side had much more balance to it, with the boys looking comfortable on the ball and providing their opponents with plenty to think about.

Rudd only had two real pieces of action to deal with and he executed those saves superbly, so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod in goal for the biggest game of the season so far, at home to Blackburn.

My guess is that Rudd will keep the shirt after keeping a clean sheet and as some head off for international duty, our thoughts turn to huge game against our closest rivals and a Deepdale atmosphere that should be bouncing.