Preston North End get their first home league win of the year but there is so much more going on

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Preston North End finally got a win at Deepdale on Saturday, it was four months in the making and involved an own goal, a red card, a penalty and the manager getting jeered for getting off his seat.

It's certainly never boring at North End though there was little in the way of entertainment in the first 45 minutes as the home side trailed.

Christ Tiehi broke forward from midfield, exchanged passes with Ashley Fletcher and then directed an effort towards goal 27 minutes in. It beat Freddie Woodman and was trickling towards the net as a desperate Greg Cunningham tried to get back and clear, only diverting it into the back of the net.

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Boos rang around Deepdale at half time and noticeably stopped as soon as Ryan Lowe entered the tunnel and went out of sight. Another indication that the North End boss is losing, if not having already lost a section of, the home support.

Preston North End's Tom Cannon scores his side's second goal despite the attentions of Wigan Athletic's Charlie Hughes, beating Ben Amos at his far postPreston North End's Tom Cannon scores his side's second goal despite the attentions of Wigan Athletic's Charlie Hughes, beating Ben Amos at his far post
Preston North End's Tom Cannon scores his side's second goal despite the attentions of Wigan Athletic's Charlie Hughes, beating Ben Amos at his far post

He asked for more fight in the second half and that's what he got, Preston getting themselves level swiftly into the second half.

Daniel Johnson showed the urgency and proactivity that was absent for the entire game up until that point to latch onto a loose ball headed down by the defence to drive forward. He rolled it wide to Tom Cannon who sent it back into his path, Johnson then going down under a challenge from Ben Amos.

In truth, PNE were a bit fortunate to get the decision but it's the kind of luck you need when you've lost five of your last six at home.

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The Jamaican picked himself up to slot the penalty away - never in doubt. He was back to his timeless, imperious best in the second half, something which we've seen fleetingly this season, but it goes to show that form is only temporary and that class is permanent.

Cliches aside, PNE were playing like men possessed for the next 10 minutes. They seemed to break away from Lowe's more patient style of pressing to be more frenetic. They sensed blood and broke rank to press and put pressure on.

They went individually but were backed up as each were taking the lead from the one before them. Wigan were still reeling from the first goal as PNE scored their second.

A well executed lob over the top of the defence was perfect for the run of Cannon who had been waiting for the chance to run in behind the defence all game. He showed Jack Whatmough and Charlie Hughes a clean pair of heels and the next question was: can he finish?

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There have been clear signs that there is a player in there so far but as yet, no finish. But that ended on Saturday.

He took the goal well, composed himself and found the far corner - with a little help from the inside of the far post. Though not the best for the nerves, it was a perfect finish.

It's no less than he's deserved. A talented young loanee starved of service and chances yet still showing that there is quality in there that PNE can benefit from.

He's still early in his first loan spell, he's always going to be a bit rough around the edges - probably one to look at again in the summer and reap from the ground work currently being put in as he finds his feet in the second tier - but he led line the line remarkably against the Latics.

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The first half was not good, simply. It was more of the same, unfortunately. North End were again lacking in creativity and it was a tough watch. Passes would go into wing backs, their nearest midfielder would run in behind and then there would be no option for a pass. Ryan Ledson was probably playing too deep but when one midfielder goes the other needs to be an option. Instead Johnson or Browne were often watching from a far, stuck in their channel on their side in a regimented way.

It was predictable and easy to defend for the Latics, with little cohesive press to create chances out of possession either, which did change in the second half.

The mood around the game and the club was both compounded and emphasised when Lowe got to his feet five minutes before the break, to ironic cheers from those paying to come and watch.

He's taken some stick on social media of late for retreating to his seat when Preston go behind and he did likewise on Saturday, with the home support keeping an eye out for when he emerged.

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It's a big indicator of the mood around the team at the moment, and again, Lowe did not clap the supporters after the game. He bit his tongue post match, likely looking to avoid a war of words with the Lilywhites' faithful, which did not go down well when he took aim a few weeks back.

He had 45 minutes to potentially keep some on side - some will be lost no matter how he gets on at the moment - and to be fair to him and his players, they did not let him down.

Nothing can be said of the North End players downing tools or not playing for the manager. They do – and I do think they would regardless of who's in charge. They're too honest a group, have too much pride in their work, they are people you can get behind.

They came out in the second half and shout exactly what they’re about. The outworked Wigan, they just wanted it more.

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The only blot on the second half was two cheap yellow cards Robbie Brady picked up. The first one when fishing for a reaction from Danel Sinani and the second for a late tackle on Jack Whatmough. His game time has been limited lately and that certainly won’t help his chances.

It was a must-win game for North End, and they won. That’s about all there will be to it for most. Other games have more subplots that unravel and emerge as weeks go on but not this time. Lowe needed a win to prevent his job becoming untenable to those that come to watch and he got one.

Cannon’s first goal is a huge plus, but we’ll see how that goes. Johnson was very good, but again, we’ll see how that goes.

It feels more like a stay of execution right now, rather than a potential turning point.