Dave Seddon's PNE pressview: Louis Moult is starting to find his feet
The mood music around Preston striker Louis Moult has changed in the last few months.
Just short of a year after his arrival at Deepdale, we are starting to see what he is all about – why he was such a big favourite at Motherwell before heading back south of the border.
Moult is not the first PNE signing to have required an extended settling-in period, there are a list of others who took time to find their feet.
Hopefully his form of late is something we can expect on a regular basis from him.
Last Saturday’s winning goal at Nottingham Forest shot Moult into a brand new stratosphere of popularity with the North End faithful.
‘King Louis’ references peppered Twitter, photos mocked-up to have him sat on the throne with a crown perched on his head.
It was Moult’s first goal as a starter in the league, five previous strikes coming in games he had started from the bench.
The frontman had started and finished in the EFL Cup against Morecambe but as for the Championship, this was new territory.
Moult couldn’t hide his delight when he spoke to the media by the side of the City Ground pitch last week.
A calm had settled on the ground after the excitement earlier of 1,402 North End supporters celebrating his winner.
But the excitement was there in Moult’s voice, this was not something he was taking for granted.
He had enjoyed seeing the passion of the Preston fans, saying that reflected how he wanted to play.
It’s fair comment that his chance of late has come due to the Deepdale injury list.
With Callum Robinson on crutches after a hamstring operation and Sean Maguire back on the sidelines with a reoccurring hamstring issue, it has fallen on Moult to lead the line.
There is Lukas Nmecha too but just of late, Moult’s experience has got him the nod over the Manchester City loanee.
Moult’s arrival at North End got plenty of attention, for the media in Scotland it was the departure down the high road of a striker who had scored regularly.
The fact Rangers had been sniffing around him only added extra spice to the £450,000 transfer.
What didn’t help Moult when he arrived in these parts was the fact he came nursing a hamstring strain.
It something everyone was aware of but all eyes were on his recovery.
There was the question too of whether or not he was coming in as a replacement for Jordan Hugill.
History shows that he was, even though they are two completely different types of centre-forward.
The pair overlapped in the Preston dressing room for 30 days before Hugill was sold to West Ham.
Moult scored twice in the second half of last season, at Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday and then on the final afternoon of the season against Burton Albion.
There was transfer talk from Scotland in the summer but he came back for training with a freshness about him and with the No.9 shirt on his back.
After his early-season goal in the Morecambe cup tie, first-team starts didn’t exactly roll his way.
If there was a turning point of fortunes for Moult, it came on a night which has proved to be a turning point for North End as a whole.
It was the 3-3 draw with Aston Villa on October 2, a result which ended a run of four straight league defeats.
Moult came off the bench that night in the Midlands to head Preston 3-2 in front, a lead they unfortunately could not quite cling to.
But it was a step in the right direction and one which has been built on.
Moult scored again as a substitute at Hull, driving home the stoppage-time equaliser.
He was at it again in the 4-1 victory over Blackburn three weeks ago, scoring the third goal and then setting up the fourth for Alan Browne.
The three games which followed the derby win, he has started, which brings us up to date with last week’s success at Forest.
To get the best out of Moult, you need him in the box – beyond the penalty spot.
Alex Neil revealed after the Forest game that the pair had spoken earlier about the need to do just that, focus on goals rather than linking-up play – be more selfish.
Moult converted Nmecha’s cross from three yards last week, while his goal in the Blackburn game came inside the six-yard box.
He was a bit further out at Hull – 10 yards or so – his header against Villa coming from six yards.
Last season’s brace had that same theme – inside the six yard box to turn home low crosses from the left.
It is in the box where he needs service and the proof is there.
On a different note, there wouldn’t have been too many of us who thought the FA Cup tie against Doncaster would be moved to a Sunday for live television broadcast.
But it won’t be on these shores where people will be pulling-up an armchair to watch PNE take on Donny.
It is one of 14 ties selected for showing overseas – part of a new deal which has kicked-in this year.
To the good folk of Peru and Panama, enjoy it!