Preston North End striker Sean Maguire hoping that Fulham trip can get him back on the goals trail
A game against Fulham can be regarded as one of the toughest on the fixture list but for Preston striker Sean Maguire it could well kick start his season.
The Republic of Ireland international has found this campaign a struggle when it comes to goals.
He has found the net only four times despite an injury-free season which has brought him his best run of games in his time with the Lilywhites.
Maguire’s last goal was on December 10 against Fulham at Deepdale.
It is the Cottagers who PNE play on Saturday and Maguire seems to enjoy facing them.
In his first season with North End, he scored home and away against the London outfit.
Then came his goal in the 2-1 victory before Christmas.
It is not on the same scale as team-mate David Nugent’s liking for scoring against Ipswich.
But for a player a bit low on confidence, Saturday’s visit to the banks of the River Thames could be just what he needs.
“I particularly like playing against Fulham,” said Maguire.
“I’ve played against them three times and scored three goals – not that I’m counting!
“I like Craven Cottage itself, I’ve only played there once but I went a few times as a kid to watch matches.
“It’s the atmosphere and surroundings I like.
“It would be nice to score there on Saturday but it’s the three points which come first.
“If it was a choice of three points or five goals for myself, it’s three points every time.
“The games against Fulham I’ve played have been entertaining ones.
“Fulham are in the top two or three sides in this league for possession and length of passes. I’ve heard that we are taking 2,000 fans with us and it gives me confidence knowing the away end will be packed.
“Hopefully I can keep my scoring run going against Fulham if selected.
“In general I enjoy playing against the teams nearer the top than the ones lower down.
“If you think of some of the games, against Hull and Charlton at home for example, the first thing they did after scoring first was to put 11 men behind the ball.
“It was tough going to find a way through but we managed it.”
Maguire scored three goals in the first few weeks of the season in the wins against Wigan, Brentford and Birmingham.
Then came a wait of nearly three months until finding the net against Fulham – a game which was 10 against 10 for half of it after red cards for Denis Odoi and Joe Rafferty.
Two-and-a-half-months later, he could do with the proverbial ball off the backside-type goal.
“I could have scored one like that against Hull,” said Maguire. “Darnell Fisher played it across to me and I let it go in off my hip.
“Usually there wouldn’t have been a guy there to kick it off the line but there was on that occasion.”
Being a player who operates either up front or on the wing, Maguire does not need telling that his goals return needs to be better.
Reflecting on how the season has gone, Maguire said: “For the type of player I am who gets judged on goals, assists and chances created, my goals record this season hasn’t been up to my standards.
“I wouldn’t change the season because at the end of the day, we are a team who are sitting sixth in the Championship.
“But taking my own form into consideration, it hasn’t gone as well as I would have hoped.”
It was suggested to Maguire – lightheartedly it must be said – that a change of haircut during the season might not have helped him.
Not quite Samson losing his strength but clearly it is something which has crossed the 25-year-old’s mind, having ditched the swept-back look for a shorter comb forward.
“I’m on it but the barber said it will take a couple of months,” said Maguire.
“I don’t think I’ve scored since I’ve had this haircut.”