Sean Gregan’s exclusive column: Paul Gallagher’s experience is vital in Preston’s young squad

Preston North End's Paul Gallagher celebrates scoring against Ipswich Town
Preston North End's Paul Gallagher celebrates scoring against Ipswich Town

It is a safe bet that Paul Gallagher won’t forget his trip to Portman Road in a hurry, the midfielder having scored for Preston against Ipswich and ending-up playing as an emergency goalkeeper.

Gallagher is a big figure at North End, both on and off the pitch, his experience key in what is largely a young squad.

Him going in goal when Chris Maxwell was sent-off in the 75th minute was one of those occasions when he led by example.

You need Gallagher’s type around the dressing room, even when he has a few extra miles on the clock.

And while he might not be starting games as often as he was doing, is value in coming off the bench is there to see.

He scored as a substitute at Aston Villa last month and with his first touch stroked home a free-kick for North End’s equaliser on Saturday.

Bearing in mind they were behind in this game and were reduced to 10 men soon after scoring, I don’t think this point is to be sniffed at.

What also must not be forgotten is that Ipswich had Paul Lambert managing them for the first time and he was always going to have his side up for the challenge.

When there is a change of manager, players want to try and prove themselves and you often find that the tempo rises a notch or two.

I think that happened with Ipswich and the way this game went, they will have seen it as two points dropped.

It is six games unbeaten for Preston now which is a big improvement when you consider they lost four on the spin in the league during September.

The four draws in that run has held them back a little bit but sometimes you have to build form steadily.

Alex Neil I’m sure will be stressing to his players how good an unbeaten run is, even with those draws.

Others might frown at the four draws and be quick to point out just the two wins.

I’ll look on it positively in that confidence will grow the longer you go without losing and the next step for North End will be turning draws into more wins.

If Preston could get a good result at Bristol City, that would be a big boost going into the international break which is coming around all too quickly.

That will be a difficult game because City are a very decent side.

But North End’s record against them has been good in recent years and hopefully we can see more of the same.

Going back to Gallagher, at most clubs there will be a couple of outfield players who fancy themselves as a goalkeeper.

I used to see it in my day when we had a five-a-sides, the keepers would come out and play up front, convinced they were the best strikers.

Then you would have an outfield player in goal who thought nothing would get past him.

I always found it best to stick to my usual position.

In my day I had my daft moments but I was never daft enough to be a keeper!

Some teams lower down the pyramid don’t have a keeper on the bench but I think you should always have cover.