Preston striker Sean Maguire looking for more goals and wins in the new year
Preston North End striker Sean Maguire was able to mark a personal milestone with a goal and victory in midweek.
The Irishman hit PNE’s second goal in the 2-0 win against Coventry City, also providing an assist for Daniel Johnson’s opener.
For Maguire, the clash at Deepdale on Tuesday night was his 150th senior game in English football.
Of those, 117 have come in a North End shirt, the others when he was on loan at Accrington Stanley from West Ham United when a young lad learning his trade.
The rest of his career was spent back home over the water with Waterford, Sligo Rovers, Dundalk and Cork City.
It’s three-and-a-half years since Maguire came to North End from Cork and this is the longest spell he’s spent at a club.
After an inconsistent first three months to the season for the Lilywhites, things are more on an even keel at the moment.
Three wins on the trot, achieved with three clean sheets, have seen them end 2020 on the up.
It was in general a good December, 16 points gained from eight games.
The defeats to Luton and Barnsley weren’t pretty, but five wins and a draw was decent going.
As well as finding the net against Coventry, Maguire also found the net at Barnsley.
He’s got three league goals to his name this season and one in the Carabao Cup, a tally he’d like to much improve on and recent form points in the right direction.
Reflecting on Tuesday night’s victory, Maguire said: “It was a great win.
“Things were difficult for us in the first half with us trying to bypass their press.
“We scored at good times, I got a goal and an assist, so I enjoyed it.
“It’s three wins on the bounce now, all with clean sheets which are hard to come by in this division.
“I thought against Bristol City the other week we played quite well.
“At Derby on Boxing Day most of the players and the gaffer weren’t happy with the performance but Alan Browne made the headlines with the superb goal at the end.
“The most important thing is that we are winning games, even if in the last couple we haven’t played that well.
“There were matches earlier in the season when we’d played quite well but didn’t win, so things have just flipped lately.
“I’m delighted for the lads at the back and Declan Rudd in goal that we have kept the clean sheeets.”
Maguire picked the pocket of Coventry’s Ben Sheaf to win possession and set up Johnson for PNE’s first-half opener in midweek.
Then early in the second half he got in on the scoring act, netting from close range following a scramble.
“For the first goal their lad had a heavy touch and I nicked it off him,” said Maguire.
“I set DJ up but he still had a lot to do and finished it very nicely.
“Coventry had been the team on top when we scored, so it came at the right time for us.
“You could say the same about my goal.
“I thought Coventry had started the second half better than us.
“It was nice to score a goal like I did, close in after a scramble.
“The gaffer always talks to me about that is the type of area I have to be in to score 10 goals a season.”
Having ended 2020 with a flourish, North End will look to kick-off 2021 in similar fashion against Nottingham Forest at Deepdale on Saturday (3pm).
Maguire said: “With how things have been, our confidence should be high going into that game.
“You’ve got to work hard for any win in this division and Forest will be tough opponents.
“After that there is a two-week break in the league with the FA Cup in between.
“If we could get something to round-off this group of league games, it would mean a lot.
“The games have been coming thick and fast but we are in decent shape thanks to the last few results. Hopefully we can keep it going.”