Five things we learned from Preston North End's 1-0 win at Bristol City
Preston North End continued their fine run against Bristol City with a first Championship away win of the season at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
Callum Robinson scored the only goal in the first half, his ninth of the season seeing the Lilywhites head into the international break in 18th in the table.
We look back at the main talking points below
Any away win in the Championship is a big one
North End may have had a fine record against Bristol City but heading to Ashton Gate with no win on the road in the Championship this season this was always going to be far from straightforward. The hosts may have been well below par but that proved to the case. Alex Neil’s Lilywhites were the better side and made it count with Callum Robinson’s 35th minute goal. They then had to graft in the second half to get over the line. The defence stood strong while in the final third there was plenty of industry to go alongside some flowing football. This was far from a vintage game but the unbeaten run now stands at seven matches and PNE head into the international break in 18th.
This could be just the start for Callum Robinson
Preston North End fans will be hoping that 150 games for the club is just the start for Callum Robinson. The versatile forward marked the milestone in perfect fashion, completing a fine team move to notch his ninth goal of a season that is getting more impressive by the week. This finish was routine but the build-up was excellent, Sean Maguire held the ball up and sent a ball cross-field to Tom Barkhuizen. His cross was deflected into the path of Daniel Johnson who had the speed of thought to find his good mate at the back post. Robinson then came so close to turning provider for Barkhuizen at the start of the second half before seeing a goal-bound shot cannon off a Robins head later on. Now PNE’s main attacking threat week in, week out.
Rudd can come back from early-season setback
There was plenty of talk during the week about whether Michael Crowe might get a surprise start but Alex Neil, as most expected, went back to Declan Rudd in goal with Chris Maxwell suspended. It was routine first period for the shot-stopper on his return to the side. He had little to do, apart from helping a deep Jack Hunt cross over his crossbar, and his distribution was good in the main. Rudd had a relatively quiet second period until the closing stages. Former PNE man Josh Brownhill had the chance to pick up a point for his side with a free-kick but the North End ‘keeper was equal to it with what was a good stop with 10 minutes to go. As games to return in go, this was one the PNE ‘keeper would have picked if he could.
Maguire’s forward play is underrated
It’s clear that Sean Maguire is getting closer to being the player North End fans know and love week by week. While not at his explosive best yet as he continues to find match fitness after injury, the Irishman’s forward play was excellent at Ashton Gate. For a diminutive front man he won several headers, held the ball up well and nicked the ball in key areas more than once. His ball to release Barkhuizen in the run-up the first goal was a particular highlight. There is clearly still more to come, one moment before the half hour where Maguire couldn’t accelerate away from his man and in behind indicating just that. But it was a good day for the No.24 and his counterparts at the top end the pitch, Johnson also putting in an excellent shift just off the front.
Browne’s place on the bench a sign of one problem this season
Earlier in the week Alan Browne admitted in an interview with the Post that he had expected to be dropped on more than one occasion this season. PNE’s Player of the Year has failed to hit those heights so far this term and was for the first time left out at Ashton Gate with Paul Gallagher coming into the midfield. His omission is an indication of one problem that has blighted Alex Neil this season. There have been injuries and suspensions aplenty but Browne is an example of key men from last term who haven’t been on top form this time around. Another man who joined him on the bench on Saturday, Darnell Fisher, one who definitely falls in that category.