Sean Gregan’s exclusive Preston North End column: How PNE destroyed Tony Mowbray’s plans

Louis Moult celebrates after restoring PNE's two-goal advantage against Blackburn
Louis Moult celebrates after restoring PNE's two-goal advantage against Blackburn

The flying start which Preston North End made to their derby victory over Blackburn Rovers was a key point in the game.

Derby games are usually cagey affairs in the first few minutes, both teams having a look at one another.

The ball can spend a lot of time in the air, with it being a bit of a battle.

So for North End to have come out of the traps like they did and score twice in the first 10 minutes was a great boost.

That was Tony Mowbray’s teamtalk for Blackburn out of the window and it was a case of Rovers playing catch-up after that.

They got back into the game after half-time with Danny Graham’s header but credit to Preston, they got themselves going again and scored two more goals to make the game safe.

In the absence of a 25-goal-a-season striker, North End are spreading the goals around nicely.

Callum Robinson is in double figures now although it looks like he is going to be ruled out with hamstring trouble for the games ahead.

Tom Barkhuizen has been on the scoresheet quite a bit recently, while Louis Moult came off the bench to score.

In the absence of Sean Maguire and Robinson, it could be that Moult gets his chance to start more often.

When injuries start to bite hard, this is when you need to dig deep into the squad and see lads ready to step up.

It is eight games unbeaten now for North End which is a decent run to say the least.

Less than two months ago they were bottom of the table and conceding goals left, right and centre.

In the main they have managed to stop the flow of goals going in their net and have continued to score at a very decent rate.

If they can maintain that over the next month and then reinforce the squad in January, they would be in very decent shape.

Injuries are going to be an issue and it is how well the squad can cope in the next few weeks.

PNE have a tough game next against Middlesbrough at Deepdale on Tuesday.

Middlesbrough are going well in second place and won at Brentford on Saturday with Jordan Hugill scoring one of their goals.

You know what to expect from a Tony Pulis side and Boro will be well organised and physical.

It was Pulis who was the Gillingham manager all those years ago when North End built up that rivalry.

Gillingham were always so tough to play against and every point we got off them was well earned.

Pulis has taken that with him wherever he has been since, and he now has Boro heading the right way.

The Championship table is an interesting one this time, with a big group of teams squeezed together.

On Sunday lunchtime, for example, Aston Villa went from mid-table to eighth place after their Midlands derby win over Birmingham.

Put two or three victories together and you can climb the table quickly.

Suffer a couple of defeats and you can soon go in the other direction.