Preston North End's 10-year debutant stat from opening Championship game against Wigan Athletic
Preston North End opened their Championship campaign on Saturday with a battling 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic.
PNE were not at their fluid best on the day and were made to work had for their point at the DW, although they did have more than enough good chances to win it.
Under manager Ryan Lowe, North End have shown a big improvement in their style of play and their intensity.
Since the Liverpudlian’s appointment they have employed a higher and more defined pressing game than when his predecessor Frankie McAvoy was in charge and they have opted for a more possession based build up.
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It is the fine work that has been put in so far that made the performance at the DW a little under par – but there was a lot of settling in to do.
Although the core of the team is still the same as last season, there were five debutants on Saturday.
Only substitute Dai Cornell did not make it onto the pitch of the six summer signings so far.
Three debutants started the game, Freddie Woodman in goal, Robbie Brady at left wing back and Troy Parrott up front – with Ben Woodburn and Alvaro Fernandez coming off the bench.
That could be one reason why North End just seemed a bit off it on the day – in fact, it is the most debutants in a PNE fixture in 10 years.
Their five were still some way off that game, under Graham Westley, where 13 players made their Lilywhites bow.
In amongst those 13 were Deepdale favourites Paul Huntington and John Welsh as Westley’s side beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 in the League Cup.
Since that infamous reign, the most debutants has been four under Simon Grayson the following season as Tom Clarke, Decland Rudd, Chris Humphrey and Kevin Davies all played their first game.
Westley was undertaking an entire overhaul of the squad, and club to a point, as PNE accepted their fate as a League One side and looked to begin to build towards a return to the Championship. Grayson picked up from that and looked to set about promotion.
Lowe is doing similar and the number of debutants he had at the weekend shows the task in hand for the 43-year-old.