Time for Preston North End supersub Louis Moult to step up to the mark
Louis Moult was again Preston North End's supersub in their derby victory over Blackburn but it could well be that the striker has a run of starts coming his way.
With front players dropping like flies with injuries this season, Moult has a big role to play over the coming weeks.
And if he can transfer his liking for a goal off the bench to when he starts games, it would be a big boost to North End as they seek to maintain the good form of the last two months.
Moult scored PNE’s third goal in the 4-1 win against Rovers and set up the fourth for Alan Browne.
With his hold-up play also catching the eye, it proved an impressive half-hour on the pitch. It was the third time this term he had netted after coming off the bench, having done so against Aston Villa and Hull City.
Likewise last season, his two PNE goals came as a sub against Sheffield Wednesday and Burton Albion.
Moult’s one Preston goal as a starter was in August’s League Cup victory over Morecambe.
His goal against Rovers was from close range, reacting after a shot from fellow sub Brandon Barker had been blocked and spun his way.
“If you look at most of my goals that is where they are from, close range,” said Moult.
“There has been the odd one further out but in the box is where a striker comes alive and hopefully scores. If you look at my goals in Scotland for Motherwell, they were in the main inside the box.
“It was pleasing to get the assist for Alan Browne’s goal too.
“When you are playing as the middle striker, you need to play across the line and help set things up.
“I want to score goals first and foremost but if I can set them up too that is a good thing.”
Moult came off the bench to lead the line in place of Lukas Nmecha who had endured a tough time against Rovers’ central defenders.
Having raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes, PNE had been pegged back by a goal from Danny Graham shortly after half-time. Said Moult: “When I came on, Blackburn were getting back into the game a bit.
“They’d scored the goal and I suppose things were in the balance.
“Coming on, I thought that if I could hold the ball up a bit more it would help us get up the pitch and put on the front foot.
“It was just about being a bit clever, bring the other lads into play and winning the battles.
“To beat Blackburn in the manner we did was brilliant.
“The atmosphere in the ground was fantastic and then coming into training on Sunday and Monday, the place was buzzing.
“After the tricky start to the season we had, to see us coming out the other end the way we are, is great.
“We always knew we were capable of getting a result like we did on Saturday.
“It was the third time we had scored four goals in a home game recently, which is really pleasing.”
Next up for North End is a Tuesday night Deepdale clash with second-placed Middlesbrough.
Boro are managed by Tony Pulis who was boss at Stoke when Moult was starting out in his football career.
Moult said: “It is a quick turnaround after winning on Saturday and our focus is now on Middlesbrough.
“We don’t have to forget about the Blackburn game because there is confidence to take from winning it.
“But this game will be a different test and will be a tough one.
“You know what to expect from a side managed by Tony Pulis.
“They are up there in the table and going well.
“We played them in the cup earlier in the season and I don’t think that will have too much of a bearing.
“The personnel will be a lot different I would have thought and how Boro line up has changed from that game.
“I have worked with Tony Pulis and I think Middlesbrough will be a bit more direct than they were that night in September.
“It is up to us to be ready for what they do.”
Middlesbrough’s visit will see a Deepdale return for Jordan Hugill, 10 months on from January’s £9.5m move to West Ham United. After limited chances there, the striker joined Boro on loan in the summer.
Moult and Hugill were PNE team-mates for a only a few weeks but the former knows what to expect from the player he was brought in to replace.
“I think Jordan will start and Middlesbrough will play to his strengths,” said Moult.
“We played together once for Preston – I made by debut at Sheffield United in the FA Cup and Jordan came on for the last 10 minutes.
“The lads speak highly of him because he did so well for Preston.”