Five things we learned from Preston North End's 3-2 win over Millwall

Goals from Alan Browne, Tom Barkhuizen, Andrew Hughes handed Preston North End all three points at Deepdale on Saturday.

Saturday, 15th December 2018, 7:22 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th December 2018, 8:28 pm
Lukas Nmecha battles for the ball during Preston's win over Millwall

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Below we take a look at the main talking points.

Patience is a good quality for any side

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Lukas Nmecha battles for the ball during Preston's win over Millwall

Patience, patience, patience. That was at the heart of this victory. For 37 minutes not a lot happened on a drab December day at Deepdale. But after a seemingly never-ending spell of possession as North End probed Paul Gallagher’s pass found Alan Browne who did the rest. A goal out of nothing was added to five minutes later by Tom Barkhuizen as PNE pressed home their advantage. Alex Neil will have liked what he saw from the sidelines at that point. Breaking down teams is not traditionally a strength of the Lilywhites but more and more this is now a side which guarantees goals. More used to open games they are learning how to find a way through more organised units too.

It was all about the points for PNE

The two quick-fire goals forced Millwall to come out and attack the game which meant the two halves were like chalk and cheese. Neil Harris’ men threw caution to the wind and were well worth their two goals on the day, even if one did come in stoppage time for Lee Gregory. The Lions are without an away win all season but the second period was back and forth with the result in doubt for large parts. PNE showed they could do it both ways though and having been patient for their rewards before the interval they survived after going toe-to-toe in the second. This was a game that was all about the result though and it’s three more on the board with North End now closer to the play-off places than the bottom three.

Gallagher now a central figure

Paul Gallagher’s like a fine wine isn’t he? The experienced midfielder is showing no sign of slowing down and has served up a real reminder of his quality in recent weeks. Saturday was no different as Gally did what Gally does best, laying on two key goals for his team mates. The first for Browne came from a driving run and pass that split open an organised Lions rearguard. The second was a fine ball from inside his own half that released Barkhuizen in behind. Early in the second half he then went for goal himself and brought a good save from Jordan Archer. While his quality on the ball has never been in doubt, the 34-year-old has also strung games together in recent weeks proving there’s still plenty left in the tank.

Nmecha learning how to fight his corner

Lukas Nmecha’s last start came against Blackburn. On that day he struggled with the physical challenge posed by the Rovers backline, Louis Moult impressing off the bench in his place and then nailing down a spot in the side. Injury ruled out Moult against Millwall meaning Nmecha was back in to lead the line having caught the eye as a substitute against Nottingham Forest. As against Rovers, Nmecha struggled to get much change out of Jake Copper and Shaun Hutchinson at the back. He didn’t get much help from referee John Brooks admittedly but it is the type of game that the Manchester City loanee will grow learn a lot from. Battling seasoned defenders is a world away from the Etihad academy.

Managing stretched squad Neil’s top priority

Brandon Barker and Louis Moult dropping out meant that there was a place on the bench for 16-year-old winger Ethan Walker. Moult’s injury is thankfully not a serious one and like Ben Pearson last week it was as much about making sure there were no-long term problems as the frontman being unable to play. PNE simply can’t afford any more absentees and management of the players and their niggles will be a big part of Neil’s job in the weeks to come. Who knows, Walker’s time might come with the former Broughton High School pupil highly thought of at Deepdale.