What an afternoon at Deepdale! The first time we have scored 5 goals in a league game since we beat Bristol City 5-0 in April 2017; 914 days. In fairness, as the gaffer said in his post-match press conference, it could have been 10 with better finishing or a better final ball but I guess we’re all happy enough with 5.

The other positive to take from today was that the prodigal son returned. David Nugent made his first start for the club in 12 years; 4,535 days. Give him every credit, he was brilliant today. Anyway, this will probably be one of the easiest player ratings pieces I’ll have to write so here we go…

Declan Rudd

Solid enough but to be fair, Dec was never really tested by a rather blunt Barnsley. They managed a grand total of six shots with only one on target – their goal. My one criticism is that he still, at times, looked rooted to his line or at best, his 6 yard box. Still, as I said, he was solid enough.

Rating – 7

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Alan Browne

Filling in at right back for the third or fourth time this season with Darnell Fisher suspended and he did an okay job. It seemed like, in the first half especially, that Ben Pearson was covering for him somewhat but Alan did a solid enough job yet again.

Rating – 7

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Patrick Bauer

Another solid performance from the big f**king German. He’s very cool, calm and collected on the ball and showed it again today. He had a 73% pass completion today and that was only bettered by Tom Barkhuizen and Paul Gallagher. For a defender, that’s good going in my book.

Rating – 7

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Ben Davies

To be honest, he wasn’t as good this afternoon as the high standards he has set for himself with recent performances. He was unfortunate with the goal that Barnsley scored as the first shot hit him and rebounded back out to McGeehan who fired home but he just didn’t look his usual, assured self.

Rating – 7

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Joe Raffrety

A good enough performance from Raff, one to go alongside the rest of his performances. Certainly not a standout afternoon and I am by no means knocking him but he’s been steady enough this season and done very well filling in at left back with Hughes out and Earl loaned out and injured.

Rating – 7

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Ben Pearson

Brilliant. Simply a brilliant afternoon for Ben. He scored his first goal in Lilywhite since the game at home against Aston Villa in October 2016 and his overall play was, as ever, exceptional. He showed again (as he does most weeks) why he is one of the best central midfielders in the league.

Rating – 8

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Paul Gallagher

Another assist for Gally capped off a fine afternoon. It’s said time and time again that he gets better with age but he really, really does. His ball over the top for DJ’s second goal was just a sign of his quality that as North End fans, we’re all too well accustomed too.

Rating – 8

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Tom Barkhuizen

An afternoon that Barky showed anyone who hasn’t seen him play before, what he’s all about. Pace, direct with the ball and bundles of energy. On any other day he would have bagged the man of the match with a goal and an assist to his name. The stand out from Barky’s afternoon was his blistering run past the Barnsley defender down the left wing before poking the ball through to Ben Pearson to slam home from all of a few yards out.

Rating – 8

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Sean Maguire

Another lively performance from the Irishman today. He also had two clear cut chances to put North End into the lead in the first half but hit them straight at the keeper which was a tad frustrating at the time but looking back, Seani will be the only one annoyed this evening that he didn’t add to his goal tally for the season.

Rating – 7

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Daniel Johnson

I don’t really need to say much about this man to be honest. He was absolutely exquisite again today. Two goals and an assist to his name which now puts him on 7 goals and 4 assists for the season. He’s second in the top scorers chart behind £22m Aleksander Mitrovic. £50k vs. £22m and a goal between them. Give me fifty grand every day of the week. If he carries on in this form, he’ll be finding himself with a second player of the month award.

Rating – 10

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David Nugent

As said earlier on,this was Nuge’s first start since his return to Deepdale and his first start for the club in 12 years. He looked lively enough and played a good ball through to Barky in the move prior to DJ’s first goal. There’s certainly more to come from him but he’s only just getting going in this second spell in fairness.

Rating – 7

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Substitutes

Josh Harrop

A good little cameo for Harrop as he grabbed his 3rd goal in the championship this season with a deft little chip over the Barnsley keeper.

Rating – 7

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Jayden Stockley

To be honest, he didn’t really offer much when he came on and the fast, fluid football we had become accustomed to prior to his arrival seems to stutter when he came on. On this showing it’s clear to see why he hasn’t been in the squad much recently.

Rating – 6

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Brad Potts

The former Barnsley made it on with eight minutes plus added time to go and had a decent effort on goal too. Still coming back to fitness but looked better today than of late.

Rating – 6

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