Last season it took Preston North End seven games to get a victory at Deepdale and it was nine games before the home fans even saw two goals scored by their own team.
This time round though, the first league game at Deepdale has seen three points in the bag, and a goal each for new signings Will Keane and Mads Frokjaer.
Sunderland didn’t make it easy for us, and caused problems throughout the 90 minutes, but it was a stoic defensive performance from Ryan Lowe’s side, who will be delighted with the win.
Frokjaer exactly what we need
Over the last few seasons we’ve lacked a goal scoring midfielder. Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne’s goals dried up in the last few years, but in Frokjaer we have found a midfielder who will at least fancy his chances a few times each game.
We had already seen him test the ‘keeper a few times in the first game of the season, and when he lurks outside the penalty area he will get plenty of chances. When Ryan Ledson found him midway through the first half, he quickly shaped up to take a shot on goal. Will Keane found himself in the way of the shot and luckily it diverted past Anthony Patterson and into the back of the net.
For the second goal, Alan Browne surged forward on the counter attack, and Frokjaer made sure he was there for support. When the ball bobbled through to him, he took a shot first time which nestled into the back of the net, before knee sliding with delight in front of the Town End. A great home debut, and an exciting season ahead for him.
MORE PRESTON STORIES
A learning curve for Kian Best
Ahead of the game, it always looked like Best would have a lot on his plate. Sunderland have two of the best wingers in the league in their ranks. We saw it last season, when on the final game, Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts ran us ragged as they ran out 3-0 winners at Deepdale.
Watched on by his predecessor in the position; Alvaro Fernandez, Best was up against Roberts on his side of the pitch, but it was Jack Clarke who was able to win a penalty after a shirt tug from Best. In real time, it looked like Clarke went down very easily, but looking back, the tug of the shirt was sufficient enough for the referee to make the decision.
The 17-year-old Preston born player recovered well after the penalty though. He could have easily have lost his head and been affected by it, but he followed it up with a strong but fair challenge on Roberts shortly after.
He was better in the second half as well, and provided a good attacking outlet down the left. He’s fantastic at set-pieces too. He will have learnt a lot from this game.
A great start for Will Keane in his second spell
The signing of Will Keane was met with a mixed reaction when he arrived from Wigan Athletic. His loan spell was average to say the least but that was eight years ago so unfair to judge him on that. But apart from his last two seasons with The Latics he has struggled for goals.
With North End hardly blessed in that department last year, it didn’t look like the most exciting of transfers. However he’s been brought on for a low fee due to Wigan’s money problems, and with limited other options up front, he’s been ideal to lead the line on his own.
His pressing is relentless, he holds the ball up well, and links up play with supporting players superbly. He didn’t know too much about his goal on Saturday, but he already looks to be establishing a good partnership with Frokjaer.
Preston show battling, resolute, and energetic characteristics
If we’re being honest, Sunderland deserved to at least get a point from the game. Preston didn’t have too many chances, but we took the ones we got. Sunderland did not, and that was down to another great performance from Freddie Woodman, and solid displays from the defence.
The fact Bradley Dack was playing as a striker shows where Sunderland are lacking at the moment, but even still Dack, along with Roberts, Clarke, Alex Pritchard and Pierre Ekwah gave us enough to worry about.
Many times last season we would sit back, which was painful to watch. On Saturday though, we continued pressing for the majority of the game, and kept the ball in the final third, picking up set pieces and throw ins when we could.
Sunderland will be in the top half this season, they have enough quality and as and when Ross Stewart returns the goals will start coming. This was a big victory for Preston, and gives us hope for more wins over the next few weeks.
It was impressive to see the team continue to clear away every opposition attack, and even the substitutes Duane Holmes and Jack Whatmough were involved in some strong tackles and headers to keep them out.