£50,000 Preston North End midfielder hits the 50-goal mark and has the West Bromwich Albion game in his sights
The 50 grand signing now has 50 goals for Preston North End.
At £1,000 per goal and with 262 appearances in a PNE shirt, Johnson has proved excellent business since joining from Aston Villa in January 2015.
Goal No.50 came on Tuesday evening in North End’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Timing his run to get behind the Blades defence to collect Ryan Ledson’s long diagonal pass, Johnson chested it past goalkeeper Robin Olsen on the edge of the box before rolling a shot into the net.
Olsen’s decision to come out in the manner he did gave the North End midfielder a helping hand.
But Johnson needed to get himself into that position to start with, then required composure to finish it off.
Not until afterwards did the 28-year-old become aware he had hit the scoring milestone.
And there’s a certain modesty about Johnson when it comes to discussing the goals.
Johnson said: “I wasn’t aware I was on 50 goals until after the game.
“If I had been aware I was on 49, I would have been trying too hard to score instead of playing my normal game.
“I love contributing and helping the team, whether it be assists or all-round play. I love scoring goals too, it’s a massive part of my game.
“The build-up to the goal was something Ryan Ledson and myself had spoken about, Ledo trying to look for that ball as much as he could without forcing the issue.
“I sussed out that type of ball would hurt Sheffield United and fortunately it did.
“We had tried it a couple of times at Bristol City too last week but it didn’t come off.”
For completeness, the first PNE goal for Johnson came on February 21, 2015, against Scunthorpe United at Deepdale.
The bargain signing scored four games in a row as he quickly found his feet as a North End player.
Wind the clock forward to the present day and he is one of the senior heads in the dressing room.
Johnson is skippering the side at the moment, club captain Alan Browne having been on the bench of late.
The armband is not proving a distraction, with him displaying some strong form of late.
Frankie McAvoy has had him playing in the advanced No.10 role, supporting the two strikers – Emil Riis and Sean Maguire have been the front pair recently.
The attacking role is not a new one for Johnson, with him having played it many times under McAvoy’s predecessor Alex Neil.
It is the fact there are two strikers ahead of him now, rather than the single one favoured by Neil.
“There’s less defensive responsibilities for me so that’s a good thing,” said Johnson with a beaming smile on his face.
“It’s all about playing your part, I’m enjoying it and it’s always good to get further up the pitch to contribute there.
“Playing behind two strikers has allowed me to make more forward runs because the centre-halves are more occupied by the two strikers.
“If I can be on the blind side of the opposition midfielder, I can make runs between our strikers.
“It’s about having a good understanding of the game, knowing the lads you are playing with and the opposition.”
A 51st goal would be grand on Saturday when PNE host West Bromwich Albion at Deepdale.
The Baggies travel to Lancashire in second place and there will be five players on board their team coach who have been team-mates of Johnson.
Sam Johnstone, Adam Reach, Callum Robinson, Jordan Hugill and Jayson Molumby all turned out for the Lilywhites.
Robinson is one of Johnson’s closest friends but there has been no talking in the build-up.
Johnson said: “Callum messaged me after the game on Tuesday to say congratulations.
“That was is, I said ‘See you Saturday’. After the game it will be back to how we normally are.”
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