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Five highlights from Preston North End’s 20/21 season

A season where fans were unable to step foot in Deepdale. It’s one that will stay in the memory for very strange reasons.

Confined to watching via iFollow or listening on the radio, it has been tough to really get involved with the season like you usually would.

Preston didn’t make it entertaining too often either and the club floated around mid table for the majority of the campaign.

There were however some stand-out moments and a few where it really would have been ten times better if fans were present. Here’s to a few more entertaining moments under Frankie McAvoy next season.

The win over Rovers at Ewood Park

After Blackburn had comprehensively beaten Preston at Deepdale earlier in the season. This was a fixture they could not afford to lose in front of the cameras. There were some fresh faces in the squad after the January transfer window, and the game really could have gone either way on the Friday night.

Things got off to a flying start as Greg Cunningham smashed in his first goal since returning to the club. It caught most by surprise but the Irishman certainly enjoyed it. Liam Lindsay then nodded Preston into a 2-0 lead before Adam Armstrong got one back just before the break. Special praise goes to Daniel Iversen though who made a number of spectacular saves in the game.

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Ryan Ledson was more than up for this match as you would expect and made some great, crunching tackles including on former Preston youth player Tyrhys Dolan. Revenge was sweet and North End’s impressive recent run at Ewood Park continued, having won three and drawn two of the last five there.

The Brentford comeback

Going 2-0 down at half-time away to one of the best teams in the league you’re not expecting to get much from the game. A draw would be amazing but a 4-2 win is something else. Preston turned in arguably their finest 45 minutes of the season in the second half.

They tore the Brentford defence apart and four goals in 18 minutes gave them their first win of the season. Scott Sinclair was in great form and Brad Potts and Sean Maguire the other two goal scorers hinted that perhaps North End were a force to be reckoned with.

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It was false hope, but nevertheless, it will be looked back as one of the best comebacks in Alex Neil’s reign.

Ben Davies signing for Liverpool

It might seem strange to identify a player sale as a highlight of the season, but Ben Davies’ move to Liverpool came out of nowhere. After watching the defender struggle at first at North End, but after numerous loan spells develop into one of the best we’ve seen in recent years, it was great to see him get a dream move.

It looked as if Davies was set to move to Celtic on a free transfer at the end of the season, and it never seemed likely he would extend his stay at Deepdale. So he left with everyone’s best wishes. Unfortunately things haven’t worked out for Ben since that move with him still waiting to make his debut. However for those couple of days to see his name in the headlines and moving to one of the biggest clubs in the world, it was great to see.

Browne and DJ signing new contracts

In what seemed to drag out for ages, the contract situation’s over the ‘big 5’ were constantly talked about. Daniel Johnson has Rangers hanging over him, whilst Alan Browne wasn’t having his most productive of seasons. Darnell Fisher was injured, whilst Ben Pearson was in and out of the side too.

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They’ve all been such key players along with Davies for the last four or five years. But it was just Browne and DJ who committed their future to the club. Browne is now the club captain and especially after Paul Gallagher’s retirement he will be a hugely important figure at the club. Johnson has also captained the side on occasions and will enter into his 8th season with the club in August. Browne will go into his 9th and their experience is key. They know the club so well and are two of the most creative players in the squad as well.

With a lot of changes expected in the summer it was important to nail down two key members of the squad and McAvoy will be able to build his team around them.

Some glorious goals

Scott Sinclair won the goal of the season for his long range chipped effort over Asmir Begovic in the away win over Bournemouth. But it wasn’t the only goal that was worthy of winning the award.

Jayden Stockley scores a goal out of nowhere in the home game against Birmingham City. It was a game where it looked like we would never score. But out of nowhere Stockley controlled the ball and on the bounce volleyed it over the ‘keeper to draw Preston level in the game. It was one that caught even his own teammates by surprise, and he clearly enjoyed it himself.

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Another goal that came out of the blue, was Ched Evans’ volley against Millwall. He instinctively ran onto a looped header from a Millwall defender and crashed in a left footed strike which gave the goalkeeper no chance. Even the camera could barely keep up with it.

There was also a wonderful team goal this season, scored on the counter attack at home to Huddersfield. Ched Evans started it in his own half. He played a through ball with the outside of his boot to Tom Barkhuizen. He used his pace to burst forward and then also with the outside of his boot he played in Scott Sinclair who smashed it home. It was a clinical move from the team.

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