Sean Gregan’s exclusive column

Tom Clarke celebrates scoring against Burton Albion
Tom Clarke celebrates scoring against Burton Albion

Preston are putting a good run together, their win against Burton on Saturday stretching the unbeaten run to five games.

Although they stayed in 10th position because most of the sides above them won, the result kept them in touch with the top six and the gap was cut by a point.

When you bear in mind they lost four games in a row recently, to be in 10th place is not bad going.

It was good to see a couple of different players feature on the scoresheet, with Tom Clarke and Daryl Horgan both netting their first goals of the season.

Clarke has made a habit of popping up with a few goals at the right time during his time at North End.

Just back from a really nasty Achilles tendon injury, the goal will have boosted his confidence no end.

Horgan made a big impact from the bench, putting in a lively display in addition to scoring the goal.

He has not had much of a look-in this season but putting in a performance like that will certainly have made Preston boss Alex Neil think long and hard about his next team selection.

It was good management from Neil to change things the way he did at Burton.

The first hour sounded quite a bit of a battle, Nigel Clough obviously keen to see his side’s form pick-up.

Neil brought on Horgan and Josh Harrop, one of the players coming off being Jordan Hugill.

That might have raised a few eyebrows at the time with Hugill being the top scorer.

But sometimes you need a tactical rethink, a change of approach to test the other team in a different way.

Having had to deal with Hugill’s power and presence for an hour, Burton’s back four then had smaller and trickier players to handle.

North End pushed on well in that last half hour and used the fresh legs to their advantage.

Managers will always preach the fact that modern day football is very much a squad game.

Rarely do they have a best XI, who comes off the bench sometimes as important as who starts a game.

If Neil has players he can turn to on the bench and make an impact, that is a great position to be in.

He will need his squad over Christmas with four games from December 23 through to New Year’s Day.

It could be that someone sat on the bench as an unused sub at the moment, could end up playing a big part in the games to come.

Horgan might have felt his chance seemed far away, now he’s come on and scored.

North End’s next game is against Sheffield United at Deepdale on Saturday.

It should be a cracker with United having done very well since being promoted last season.

While their form has just dipped in recent games, they are up in the top six on merit.

The way they play might suit Preston, with Blades boss Chris Wilder not one to park the bus like some teams have done at Deepdale.

You would think it will be an open game and hopefully one Preston can win.