Well, what a month February was for Alex Neil’s men. Unbeaten in all 5 games played in February and now unbeaten in 9 games with our last defeat coming back on New Year’s Day away at Rotherham. Arguably, that was a game we should have gotten something from but hey, we’re hardly in a bad place at the minute compared to where we were at the start of the season.
Derby County (h)
February started off with the Sky Sports cameras rolling into town to see how Frank Lampard’s Derby County would get on at Deepdale under the lights. The game was a rarity in that it was a rather entertaining 0-0 draw. I don’t think you’ll find any North End fans that would say anything other than we should have walked away with all 3 points considering Derby didn’t muster a single shot on target.
The issue for North End was that from 23 shots, we only managed 3 on target. That’s disappointing considering we were at home, had 11 corners and for the most part, dominated play.
The Sky Sports man of the match was Richard Keogh and the WhoScored man of the match with a rating of 8.5 out of 10 was Preston North End’s Ben Davies who had a 75% pass success, won 9 aerial duels, made 7 clearances and made 2 key passes. The start of a month that will ultimately lead to a Championship Player of the Month nomination for Ben Davies.
Bolton Wanderers (a)
The opportunity to make the 0-0 draw against Derby not look like too bad a result came with a visit to the University of Bolton stadium and Phil Parkinson’s Bolton Wanderers side. Yet another game that we dominated large parts of and come half time should have been more than just 1-0 up. After Alan Browne put us in front after some nice link-up play with Tom Barkhuizen. Sean Maguire then had a glorious chance to make it 2 before the break after some fine footwork but he dragged his shot wide of the near post.
Tom Barkhuizen put us 2-0 up in the second half as he raced through on goal following a lovely through ball from Sean Maguire. Clayton Donaldson snatched a late goal for the home side and a fine save from Declan Rudd ensured that all 3 points were coming back home to Deepdale.
The WhoScored man of the match from this game was Alan Browne who had a rating of 8.5 out of 10. He had 6 shots, made 2 key passes, made 2 tackles, 2 clearances and scored 1 goal.
Norwich City (h)
We returned to Deepdale where we hosted the then and current league leaders, Norwich City. They came to Lancashire having not lost an away game since August and found themselves 1-0 down inside the first 2 minutes. Darnell Fisher won a freekick out on the right side of the box and Paul Gallagher whipped a ball into the box which Ben Davies met to flick into the back of Tim Krul’s goal.
Fisher was then fouled in the box 22 minutes later and won a penalty which Paul Gallagher stepped up and duly dispatched it. Sean Maguire put us 3-0 up before 70 minutes when he collected a rebounded Alan Browne effort off the bar and fired it into the top corner. Teemu Pukki did grab a late consolation goal for the Canaries but it was a case of too little, too late.
The WhoScored man of the match was Declan Rudd who had the game of his life against his former employers and hometown team. Declan got a rating of 8.6 after making 8 saves and saving a penalty in the first half, too.
Nottingham Forest (h)
A second game at Deepdale inside of a few days saw Martin O’Neill and his mate Roy Keane come to town with Nottingham Forest. It has to be said, there’s not much to say about this game. Forest came with a game plan and made things difficult for us and hats off to them and I think many North End fans were happy to come away with a point considering they had 2 goals disallowed.
The WhoScored man of the match from this game was, for the second time in a month, Ben Davies. He played very, very well and did a good job on Forest striker Lewis Grabban. He had an 80.4% pass success rate, won 10 aerial duels and made 9 clearances.
The final game in February saw Alex Neil and his men heading down to the capital and to visit Millwall at The Den. Another early start for North End with Paul Gallagher whipping in a freekick and Andrew Hughes scuffed his first effort but he smashed in a right-footed volley inside the opening 8 minutes.
There was barely 16 minutes on the clock when a corner from Paul Gallagher was met at the back post by North End’s own masked man, Tom Clarke, who had the ball in the back of the net and the Lilywhites were well worth their 2-0 lead. Just 11 minutes later, Paul Gallagher had his second assist of the game and Sean Maguire had his second goal in 3 games and just like that, we were 3-0 up.
Millwall came at us a bit more in the second half but only managed to pull 1 goal back. The biggest disappointment from this game was that Ben Pearson picked up an unnecessary booking which has resulted in him sitting out the Bristol City game last weekend and he’ll also be sitting out this weekend’s local derby against Blackburn Rovers.
The WhoScored man of the match from this game, unsurprisingly, was Paul Gallagher with a rating of 8.4 out of 10. He made 4 tackles, 4 key passes and got 2 assists to his name. As has been said many times before, Paul Gallagher is like a fine wine, he just seems to get better with age.
So, we head into March on the back of a cracking February and it got off to an okay start with a point at home against Bristol City last weekend and we have a big test this weekend when we head down the M65 to face Lancashire rivals, Blackburn Rovers.
You have all of the players who scooped the WhoScored man of the match award but we want to know your thoughts. Who was your player of the month from February? Hit us up on twitter – @fromthefinney and let us know your thoughts. Enjoyed this post? We would appreciate a share and you can do that by hitting the button below the post. Don’t forget to check back for our next post soon!