Preston North End show grit and character to stage comeback win over Swansea City

Preston North End came from behind to beat Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday afternoon
Preston North End’s Andrew Hughes celebrates scoring Preston North End’s Andrew Hughes celebrates scoring
Preston North End’s Andrew Hughes celebrates scoring

Preston North End have been guilty of lacking an identity under Ryan Lowe, but there is greater clarity and real spirit about the Lilywhites this season. PNE showed their character once again on Saturday afternoon, as they battled from behind to see off Swansea City 2-1 and make it ten points from 12 - a start surely better than the majority of North End supporters expected.

Lowe has had his fair share of challenges and criticism since arriving in December 2021, but Preston’s manager had as good a day as anyone here. On the hour mark, a change to a 4-2-3-1 shape saw Alan Browne push on to his more favoured attacking midfield role with Mads Frokjaer and Duane Holmes operating either side of the skipper. Ahead of them was the relentless running machine, Will Keane.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Trailing one-nil at the break, North End needed to do it the hard way to ensure their unbeaten start to the campaign remained in tact. With Swansea ahead and finishing the first half the stronger, it had the feeling of a game where a point would could be positive for PNE. It’s early days, but there is a different grit about North End this season - whose thin squad are standing up and being counted.

The Lilywhites made a bright start to proceedings on a sunny afternoon at Deepdale, with Brad Potts asking early questions down the right flank and PNE’s attacking midfield duo picking up some dangerous positions. Ryan Ledson curled an early, first time effort over while Frokjear - to his frustration - cleared the crossbar on two occasions from 18 yards. Having shown his shooting ability from distance in pre-season, the Dane was evidently disappointed in himself to not hit the target.

Swansea had shown some vulnerability at the back and offered little at the other end, but North End manager Ryan Lowe had predicted pre-match that Michael Duff would want more of an end product from the visitors this season. And when the ball was floated over to him by Charlie Patino on 33 minutes, wing-back Ashby stuck it away ruthlessly from close range. From there, PNE were second best and went in at the break needing to come from behind.

The Swans’ possession-mad manager of the last two seasons is no longer in the hot seat, but a lot of Russell Martin’s principles are clearly still in force. In their all pink strip, North End’s opponents showed care in possession and made the hosts suffer off-the-ball, with everyone in the team comfortable with the ball at feet.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a bid to turn the game in North End’s favour, Lowe introduced Ali McCann on the hour and altered shape - youngster Kian Best making way. Four minutes later Browne - now in the ‘ten’ - swung the most inviting of crosses into the box for Andrew Hughes to arrive on and glance a delightful, delicate header into the far corner to level matters.

The Alan Kelly Town End has proven to be an effective suction engine over the years. The Deepdale decibels sure went up a few notches after Hughes’ equaliser and on 79 minutes the roof was raised once again. PNE appeared to be going nowhere down the left and Frokjaer looked lost as some groans emerged from the stands. That was all part of the trick, though, as the Dane exploded past his man and teed up Holmes to slot home the winner into the roof of the net.

PNE XI: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Potts, Ledson, Browne (c), Best (McCann 63’), Holmes (Whatmough 85’), Frokjaer (Woodburn 90+2’), Keane

Attendance: 14,464