Preston made it five unbeaten and three back to back away wins for the first time since 2005 with a 2-1 win against Bolton yesterday afternoon. The Lilywhites were backed by 4,565 travelling North Enders, vocal all the way through the game and would have no doubt been very pleased come the final whistle but the game should have been well and truly won in the first half with North End squandering a number of decent chances early on.

The game should have finished with a similar scoreline to the last North End game that referee Andy Madley took charge of in January away at Queens Park Rangers which finished 4-1 to North End. Alas, we had to make do but the three points still ended up coming back down the M61 to Deepdale from a game that was completely dominated by Alex Neil’s men. 60% possession, 16 shots to 7, 7 shots on target to their 3 and 10 corners to 4. North End should have been ahead early on after a neat flick from Sean Maguire sent Barkhuizen through, but he dragged his shot wide. Shortly after this, Marc Wilson cleared an Alan Browne shot off the line from a couple of yards out – two great chances for the visitors.

 

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The first goal of the game finally came on 40 minutes when Tom Barkhuizen and Alan Browne linked up nicely with a little one-two which Browne tucked away with a neat little finish through the legs of Bolton defender David Wheater. It really should have been 2-0 before the break with a Sean Maguire creating himself a great chance with some tidy footwork only for him to drag his shot wide of the near post.

The second half was pretty much more of the same until Bolton brought Clayton Donaldson on and they started to look a little livelier but that didn’t stop North End from bagging their second goal when Tom Barkhuizen raced onto a Sean Maguire through ball to slot home the second goal for Preston. Though that was ultimately enough for all three points for Preston, they didn’t half make it a nervous final few minutes as Clayton Donaldson slotted home in the 90th minute and Josh Magennis had a header well saved by Declan Rudd.

Stand Out Performers

Tom Barkhuizen now has 6 league goals for the season and 1 assist from 23 starts this season, contributing a goal in just over 30% of games he has played in. Not too bad for a winger who is having a ‘poor season’ and often doesn’t get the credit for the defensive cover he provides to the full back on whichever side he’s playing.

More impressive though is Alan Browne’s season to date. The Irish midfielder has managed 10 goals and 2 assists in the league in his previous 3 seasons with North End but this season has 11 goals and 4 assists in 27 league appearances, including 2 from the bench. That’s involvement in a goal every 1.8 games so far this season. Since Blackburn at home in November, he’s been involved in 10 goals scoring 7 and assisting 3. That means he’s contributed to 52% of the 19 goals we have scored since (and including) the 4-1 win against Rovers.

Player Ratings

Declan Rudd

An assured performance from the North End no. 1 whose performances in recent times have improved after rightly being criticised earlier on in the season for some quite poor performances. Also made a great save to stop Bolton snatching a late equaliser.

Rating – 7.5

Darnell Fisher

Fisher is looking much better of late, more like the Fisher from last season. He seems to be benefitting from having some proper competition on the bench and also seems to be benefitting from a bit of faith from the manager and having a decent run in the side. Solid enough yesterday.

Rating – 7

Jordan Storey

Excellent again. Him and Ben Davies have formed a quite formidable partnership at the back and barring injury, should be the centre back pairing for the foreseeable future.

Rating – 8

Ben Davies

Same story as Storey. He’s been fantastic since Alex Neil put him in the side. Some fans refer to him as a ‘Rolls Royce’ of a defender and it’s hard to disagree. He was great yesterday and dealt well with Magennis and Donaldson, too.

Rating – 8

Andrew Hughes

Dealt well with Ameobi yesterday. Has started to look really comfortable of late and has made the left-back position his own and it was more of the same yesterday. Good performance.

Rating – 7

Paul Gallagher

Classy as ever yesterday. He was cool and calm on the ball and played spread the ball around the pitch. Was an outlet all afternoon until he went off for Nmecha later in the game.

Rating – 7.5

Brad Potts

Continued his recent run of good games with another good performance in the middle of the park. He hit the post too and could have added to his two goals already scored since signing from Barnsley in January.

Rating – 8

Ben Pearson

Ben Pearson was absolutely exquisite again yesterday. It turns out that he picked up a slight knock in the warm-up, but you couldn’t tell. He dictated the play from a deep-lying role in the centre of the park. Man of the match by some way.

Rating – 9

Alan Browne

North End’s top goalscorer this season hit his 11th of the season yesterday with a great little finish. Stormed around the pitch with a purpose and helped break up the Bolton play. An excellent performance.

Rating – 8.5

Tom Barkhuizen

Playing on the shoulder, his pace was a real worry throughout the game. He scuffed a couple of early chances to put North End in the lead but he set up Alan Browne for the first goal and was out through by Sean Maguire to score the game’s second goal. Good cover defensively, too. Impressive performance.

Rating – 8

Sean Maguire

Pushed up through the middle for this one with Jayden Stockley sitting out his first game since signing from Exeter. Maguire continued his comeback from injury with a commanding performance and his constant movement had the Bolton centre-halves on their toes all the time. Had a great chance to score and set up Tom Barkhuizen to score what proved to be the winning goal.

Rating – 8

How did you think the lads got on yesterday? Do you agree that Ben Pearson was man-of-the-match? Don’t forget to give us a follow on twitter here, or hit the button under the content and say hi! If you want to contribute a piece to the site, feel free to drop us an email through the form on the contact page.