We roared back to win: Preston supporter John Roper has his say on the victory over Hull

For the first half of this game it looked like North End were carrying on from where they left off last week against Millwall with some lack lustre performances and no real leadership on the pitch.

Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 12:08 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 12:10 pm
Alan Browne is congratulated after hitting the winner for North End against Hull

However after the break, and with two inspired substitutions, North End roared back into the game in the second period and ended up winning this must-win game by 2-1.

Hull looked a side struggling for confidence but North End couldn’t make any decent inroads into the visitors’ defence early doors and ended up conceding a goal slightly against the run of play to see us behind at half-time and staring down the barrel of another home defeat.

A strong half-time team talk and the introduction of Browne and Stockley proved the inspiration for a Preston comeback with a penalty smashed home from Gallagher before Browne ensured all three points with a well placed header.

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Alex Neil decided on four changes from the side that lost at home to Millwall seven days ago and brought back Darnell Fisher, Paul Gallagher, Josh Harrop and Sean Maguire.

The conditions were at their worst in the first half with a really strong swirling wind making it difficult to play decent football as both sides struggled to get any sort of control on a scrappy game. North End huffed and puffed but could not get a decent shot on target in the early stages and the Tigers grew in confidence as the first half went on.

North End found themselves a goal down when a short corner from the left hand side was whipped in and Wilks had a free header almost in the six yard box with no defender near him. North End immediately tried to counter but the visitor held firm until the interval and once again it looked like we were up against it in front of our own crowd.

The manager had obviously had some strong words to say at half-time and North End came out with much more purpose immediately after the break, Although we were on top in the early stages of the second half it was a double substitution just before the hour mark that turned the game on its head.

Sean Maguire and the ineffective Scott Sinclair were brought off and Jayden Stockley and Alan Browne were brought on. The North End pressure told when Fisher went down in the box and Gallagher absolutely smashed the resulting penalty into the net. North End were finally starting to buzz and when Alan Browne smartly headed home a pin point cross from Stockley North End were back in the ascendancy and heading for victory.

Hull never really looked like equalising late on and North End held out comfortably to take all three points and maintain their play-off status as others faultered around them. The conditions were far from ideal at pitch level but at this stage of the season with now just a dozen games to go it is a matter of the results being key and not the performance.

This was far from North End’s best performance of the season but it was certainly one of their most important victories to keep up the pressure on the sides above and below us in the league.

Just how good a win this was will only be able to be judged next Saturday tea-time as North End embark on what is a massive week in the Championship promotion race. Back to back away games at West Brom on Tuesday and at Fulham on Saturday will test Alex Neil and his boys to the limit.

There should be a decent following in the Midlands on Tuesday and there will be almost 2,000 on the the banks of the Thames next Saturday afternoon to, hopefully, cheer the boys on to some important Championship points as we enter the final dozen games of the season.