Preston North End gave Paul Huntington the right send-off by beating Middlesbrough says Ryan Lowe

Ryan Lowe was delighted to see Preston North End finish the season on a winning note against Middlesbrough which he felt was a fitting send-off to Paul Huntington.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 5:13 pm
Updated Saturday, 7th May 2022, 5:20 pm

The Lilywhites ran out 4-1 winners over Middlesbrough at Deepdale, the Teessiders having come to Lancashire backed by 5,600 of their fans as they chased a play-off place.

Boro found PNE much too good for them on the day, Lowe’s men in control from the moment Alan Browne gave them a 24th minute lead.

Emil Riis’ shot was deflected in by Dael Fry for the second, with Riis scoring twice in the second half.

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Preston North End defender Paul Huntington comes on as a substitute against Middlesbrough at Deepdale

Lowe felt Riis should be awarded a hat-trick, although Fry had been credited with an own goal.

With his side in the ascendancy, North End boss Lowe brought on Huntington with 11 minutes left to give him one final hurrah in a Preston shirt ahead of a summer exit after a decade’s service.

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Lowe said: “There were two sayings I came out before the game in the dressing room, one of them was give your mate who has been a legend of this football club for 10 years a good send-off by winning and walking round the pitch with him.

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe during the win against Middlesbrough

"My second one was don’t walk round the pitch with your families and kids having been beaten, that is not good.

"So the two objectives was to send you mate home happy with a winning end to his time at Preston North End and to send the fans home happy, give them something to shout about.

"That was the last part of my team talk just before they went out. You know what, I might use that again!"

Lowe felt it was a case of saving the best to last in terms of North End’s display.

"That is probably the best performance we have had all season, everything we asked for we got – it all went to plan,” said Lowe.

"We have that in our locker, all season we have been ‘nearly’ and today was just an outstanding performance which is what I wanted.

"Two wins to finish off the season on a high and that lead us into a summer which we know will be tough in terms of recruitment, it’s tough when people are coming and going.

"For us to finish on a high with all the fans, that was a performance which I really wanted.

"They were all brilliant in different ways, there were some big performances from big players.

"I have challenged them over the last week or so, one or two – I won’t name names – I have said I need more, otherwise it is a case of you’ll be replaced.

"They have given that and I want that to continue next season.

"We have finished 10 or 11 points away from the play-offs which I where we want to get to, that is not a mountain to climb, it is three wins in a week to be in and around it.

"Our objective now is to get the right players, build again and make sure our lads have got competition, go again in the summer.

"Overall the performance levels from every single one of them, including the ones who came on, were absolutely outstanding,.”