A much-needed win came for North End on Saturday as they completed a league double over Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic. It was the first win of 2020 and moves us up to 9th in the table now. We’re only 2 points off 6th and 5 points behind 3rd so despite the table being tight, we’re still in a good position after our recent poor run.
Here are 5 things we learned from the 2-1 victory…
Harrop’s Establishing Himself
Josh Harrop arrived in the summer of 2017 with plenty of fanfare having just ended the previous season with a goal on his Manchester United debut. Indeed he showed promise in that first campaign with us but perhaps took time to get used to the way we play and the Championship itself.
His second season was interrupted by injury but he has always shown class and I believe he’s one of our best attackers. Capable of producing something out of nothing he is now on 8 goals for the season without really having a sustained run in the side.
Also, he’s probably our best option for that number 10 role and with just 18 months left on his contract, I think it’s about time we offer him a new one.
It Was an Attacking Lineup from Alex Neil
When the team was announced it was clear we were going to go and attack the game from the off. A win was expected on Saturday against a very young Charlton side troubled by injury.
With Ben Pearson and Paul Gallagher ruled out, Alex Neil could have brought in Ryan Ledson as the holding midfielder but instead went for a very attacking, perhaps lightweight trio in the middle. With Harrop in the number 10 role and Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne behind there was the potential for plenty of creativity and goal-scoring chances.
Coupled with the pace and trickery of Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair respectively, there was a lot of threat and even though we went a goal down, you felt there would be a chance for us to get back in the game.
Green Was Always Going to Score
Andre Green wasn’t really given a chance at North End for reasons unknown. When he moved straight to Charlton following the cancellation of his loan we quickly realised that this game was not too far away.
You always worry about former players scoring against you but given the Green situation it seemed even more likely. It only took him 5 minutes to score, in front of the Town End and he was clearly delighted having endured a tough first half of the season.
You can’t begrudge him celebrating, he doesn’t owe us anything. He’ll be hoping to kick on with the Addicks now and is fighting for his career considering he’s out of contract in the summer so it was important for him to get a goal.
Of course Patrick Bauer scoring the winner for us is a different situation having spent an enjoyable 4 years with Charlton and scoring the goal that took them up to the Championship. He decided not to celebrate and you can understand that from his point of view as well.
It’s Good to Have DJ Back
Daniel Johnson had missed the last 9 games through injury and we were struggling without him. He returned on Saturday and I think everyone was glad to have him back involved.
He helps unlock defences and he is particularly needed when we go a goal down and the opposition sits in and make things hard for us. That’s exactly what happened against Charlton and hopefully, he can remain injury-free for the rest of the season.
Our joint top scorer has had his best season for us at this level and he is clearly enjoying his football with us. Harrop played well as the furthest forward midfielder so DJ may have to settle for sitting further back but with both in the side, our attacking threat is greater.
Sinclair Gave us a Glimpse
There’s been a lot of hype around Scotty Sinclair since his arrival. Understandably fans are expecting a lot with it being one of our highest-profile signings for a number of years.
He managed the full 90 minutes which is encouraging given his lack of game time before coming here. He’ll take time to get to his best I’d but in his first appearance at Deepdale in lilywhite, he showed a few glimpses of what he can offer us.
He’s direct and will always look to run towards goal and look to get a shot off. We need that. We’ve been lacking options on the wing and hopefully, in the coming weeks Sinclair will grow and he can provide and score some important goals for us. Another addition upfront is needed, as the boys spoke about on the pod this week, but with Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen out wide, we are going to cause teams problems.
Speaking of the pod, hit the play button below and give this week’s episode a listen. Jake, Jimmy and Oli discussed the win over Charlton, DJ’s return, Harrop’s form and they answered some questions from twitter.