The Tim Mercer column: A really satisfying victory

Yet another absence up front was revealed with the 2 pm team sheet, although later news suggested that Louis Moult will be back for the next match.

Sunday, 16th December 2018, 1:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 16th December 2018, 2:33 pm
Tom Barkhuizen in action against Millwall

Yet another absence up front was revealed with the 2 pm team sheet, although later news suggested that Louis Moult will be back for the next match.

In all my years of watching the Lilywhites, I cannot remember so many forward players being crocked at the same time.

The lack of bite up top was reflected in the opening part of the first half, as the hosts saw plenty of the ball, but with little of it sticking, as the last recognised striker, Lukas Nmecha, continues in his struggles with the hurly burly of Championship defenders.

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It was with some relief then that two good strikes late in the half put a smile on our faces and warmed the cockles of our hearts on a freezing and dark mid-winter’s afternoon.

The second of these by Tom Barkhuizen was created by a real quality pass from Paul Gallagher, who continues to be a key part of the team in this injury-hit time.North End came out in the second half looking determined to finish off Millwall; but the visitors are a tough lot and got a grip of the game themselves by playing to their strengths of direct play and set pieces.

After some good saves by Declan Rudd, they got their reward by pulling a goal back following a corner. It was the host’s reaction that showed why this team has been on such a good run of late.

There was no sense of panic as Preston built up their play again with one good move leading to Nmecha being fouled just outside of the box. A number of us speculated that it would best if Andrew Hughes took the free kick, having scored from the exact same position earlier in the season.

He didn’t disappoint with a curling shot around the wall and into the corner of the onion bag. Despite Millwall getting another goal late into stoppage time, it felt comfortable for the remainder of the match and only a cracking save and the crossbar prevented Preston from adding to their lead. In the circumstances a really satisfying victory.