An important three points for North End, but for the majority of the game on Saturday it didn’t look like they were coming. Frustrations were boiling over, and the team weren’t playing well at all until a double substitution from Alex Neil changed the game.
Results again went in our favour and we have a three-point advantage over 7th placed Bristol City. Here’ are five things we learned from the Hull City game…
Stockley Changed the Game Again
Not for the first time this season Jayden Stockley was brought on when we desperately needed some inspiration. Of course, the Blackburn Rovers game earlier in the season sticks in the mind when he was brought on as a first-half sub and led us to a comeback.
This time with the team 1-0 down, and lacking much creativity up-front he was brought on to replace Sean Maguire. Again Maguire struggled in the game, and we’re all willing him to hit some form and to get a goal.
Jayden was brought on in the 58th minute and caused problems for the Hull defence straight away. We know his height gives us better options with long balls up top, but he also chases down the defence and puts them under pressure. His layoffs are superb and his control and cross for the second goal was fantastic to watch.
What a great left-footed ball for Alan Browne to head in. Surely played himself into the side for the West Bromwich Albion game on Sunday.
Comebacks at Home
That was the fourth time this season that North End have come from behind to claim something at Deepdale.
We continue to have the best home record in the league and whilst it’s frustrating we go behind so often (on four further occasions we have lost to nil when conceding the first), we’ve shown we can make a comeback.
We were 2-0 and 3-2 down to Bristol City in September before claiming a 3-3 draw. Who can forget the famous comeback against Blackburn, overturning a 2-0 deficit to win the game 3-2. We beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 after conceding early on, and then Saturday’s performance was another turnaround.
Neil isn’t afraid to make changes during the game and they often pay off. We’re always better in the second half when attacking the Town End and the fans seem to help give the team a boost as well. With a lot of tough away games between now and the end of the season, we need to make sure the home form remains one of the best in the league.
Town End Atmosphere
The first half ended on bad terms with one fan in the Alan Kelly Town End choosing to have a go at Declan Rudd. Obviously the North End ‘keeper didn’t take too kindly to it and walked back to see what his problem was.
Rudd has been class for us of late, and half time certainly isn’t the time to raise any issues with the players. It was a bad first half, but on the whole, the team received encouragement as they went in for the break.
The Town End made some noise and backed the team urging them on in the second half. Hull manager Grant McCann felt as if the fans had a big impact on the referee awarding us the penalty. Alan Browne appealed for one less than 30 seconds before the Darnell Fisher one was given.
The fans were adamant for the first one to be given, with big appeals perhaps putting referee Steve Martin under pressure to eventually award us one. If we’re honest the atmosphere in the first half was dead, and the game almost had the feel of an end of the season, nothing to play for type of match. We’re pushing for promotion, with only 12 games left, Deepdale should be rocking.
The noise when Alan Browne headed in the winner was great though, and those moments in the Town End when those important goals go in are priceless.
Browne Should Play Number 10 if DJ is Out
Daniel Johnson missed Saturday’s game with a ‘knock’, hopefully, nothing too serious as he has been our most important player this season.
We struggle to unlock teams without him, and that showed in the first half. I like Josh Harrop as a player and feel as if he can provide moments of skill, but we know how good Alan Browne is in that role based on last season.
He’s confident on the ball, he’s good in tight situations, and he’s lethal in the box as well. and he’s a runner. He made an impact as soon as he came on, and Harrop can be good from out wide as well. He’s a good crosser of the ball and can get past players.
If DJ is to miss the West Brom game, I would have Browne in behind Stockley, with Harrop and Tom Barkhuizen out wide.
The Winning Goal was Incredible
The control from Browne, the lay off to Stockley, the run into space, the perfect left-footed cross into the box, the run from Browne, the time hanging in the air, and the header back across goal. It was a joy to watch, and worthy of winning any game.
The best move of the match, coming from the double substitution. It was a superb turnaround and everyone left Deepdale in high spirits. We are capable of some great football at times, with many talented players.
You wouldn’t usually put Stockley in that bracket, but he proved his worth to the team yesterday and showed he isn’t just a one-trick pony. The header from Browne almost seemed like it was in slow-motion with the amount of time he was in the air for.
A clever header as well, back towards where it came from giving the ‘keeper no chance and as I said, the noise around Deepdale when it went in was superb.
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