Tom Barkhuizen off mark for Preston after Sean Maguire returns favour
Tom Barkhuizen thanked Sean Maguire for returning the favour after the Preston speedster scored his first goal of the season in the win at Birmingham.
A disappointing first half saw Alex Neil’s side trail to Maxime Collin’s opener but an improved Lilywhites stormed back in the second to record a 3-1 victory that saw them move up to fourth in the Championship.
Barkhuizen had a hand in goals for Daniel Johnson and Jordan Hugill before taking Maguire’s pass and slotting the ball into the empty net for the third strike in a stunning 11-minute spell from North End at St Andrews.
“I started the season pretty slowly but in the last three games I’ve got three assists and a goal,” said the 24-year-old.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team, but as a forward you get judged on goals and assists and thankfully I’m off the mark.
“I’ve set up Seani in the last couple of games and I told him him he owed me one and he put it on a plate for me.”
PNE’s first on 56 minutes saw Barkhuizen overrun a ball which Johnson took in his path before driving forwards and firing a fine, low finish beyond David Stockdale.
Then four minutes later it was the former Morecambe man’s persistence that won the ball back high up the field, Josh Harrop feeding Hugill whose deflected shot put North End in front.
“The first is one of those that if you’re playing fantasy football you get an assist for it!” Barkhuizen said.
“I’m definitely claiming it. It was a great finish by DJ and it put us on our way for the second half.
“The gaffer wants us to press really high and that’s what I’ve done for the second goal.
“I’m really happy to play a part in the goals and get one myself.”
The revival came after some stern words from their manager at the interval and resulted in a first away victory since the 1-0 triumph at Burton back in January.
“It’s the first time the gaffer’s had to give us a dressing down at half-time and it was deserved,” said Barkhuizen.
“We were off the pace and weren’t playing how we had done all season.
“The first 25 minutes of the second half was then the best we’ve played all season.
“We were right in their faces, we were winning everything and went back to how we’ve been playing and the three goals were well deserved.”