It took just 37 seconds for Preston North End to re-establish themselves at the top of the Championship on Saturday. Leicester City had knocked them off on Friday night, but The Lilywhites reasserted their position after holding on to a 2-1 win over Plymouth Argyle.

It was arguably Preston’s toughest test of the season so far, but they came through it. A fifth win in a row, and a third successive 2-1 win at Deepdale.

Millar wastes no time in making an impact

It was a tough team to predict ahead of this game. Liam Millar and Milutin Osmajic both came in for their debuts with Will Keane missing out altogether. Robbie Brady and Ben Whiteman also returned to the bench after lengthy injuries, whilst Mads Frokjaer had to settle for a place alongside them as well.

Millar started as the left-wing-back in the team. The Canadian is a versatile option and the right-footed player clearly likes to take on a man and bring the ball inside.

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In the first minute Brad Potts pinged a cross field pass to the player on loan from Basel, and he ran straight at the opposition. His cross come shot was pushed out by Conor Hazard and Duane Holmes was on hand to nod in.

It was the ideal start for Preston who were always going to face a tricky team with Plymouth fans and Stephen Schumacher keen to get one over their former manager Ryan Lowe.

Millar continued to be an important player throughout the match, scoring a lovely goal of his own, before being the architect of a wonderful chance for Osmajic. He was suffering with cramp at the end, but stayed on the pitch to help get us over the line. We could have some player on our hands here.

Preston North End v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Mike Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lowe has some great options available to him now

It looks like Millar would be able to play in both wing-back positions, whilst he is a far more attacking player than a defensive one, he gives us some much needed pace and trickery.

Milutin Osmajic had a solid debut, and looks like he can be a good focal point for the team. He turned and laid on a nice pass for Millar to score his goal. Will Keane will probably come back into the team on Tuesday if fully fit, but if we continue to play with one striker then when Ched Evans and Emil Riis are back, Lowe has a difficult choice to make.

Layton Stewart was in the matchday squad for the first time this season as well. This was the strongest bench we had named this season, with plenty of options for Lowe to choose from. He will have been happy he could call upon Whiteman and Brady to help us see out the game. Experienced players who’s game management was key for the last 20 minutes or so.

Mads Frokjaer was another who came off the bench, a great option to have as captain Alan Browne came off at half time. Jack Whatmough is also proving to be a decent substitute to bring on to help us see out a game when it looks like we are up against it.

Injuries and suspensions will occur throughout the season, but for the first time in a long time, it seems we have ample depth with good quality as well.

Important to get back to the top straight away

It always seems that when Preston get themselves into a good position we stumble in the next game. On numerous occasions we’ve got within touching distance of the top six, and when it comes to that game where we can jump up a place or two we end up falling back.

The win at Stoke City two weeks ago, had allowed Preston fans to go into the international break with huge smiles on the faces looking down from the top of the league. It would have been a great shame if come the next round of fixtures we let it slip.

Leicester set us the target on Friday night, and we knew only three points would see us return to the top. Job done, and we continue to set the pace.

We are now the only unbeaten side in the league after Birmingham City’s defeat to Watford. The Blues visit Deepdale on Tuesday. The momentum continues to build.

Preston North End v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images

Stoic defending again

All three of our home games this season have seen us holding on to a 2-1 victory. It’s a nervy watch and Saturday’s game was the hardest yet as Plymouth relentlessly pushed to try and get back in the match. Although they had 14 corners, aside from the goal and Freddie Woodman’s huge save in the first half, they didn’t really have any guilt edged chances.

This season North End have defended their box very well. The players are getting in the way of everything and winner their defensive duels at key times. Andrew Hughes was a bit flat footed for Plymouth’s goal but he was potentially carrying a knock at that point.

Liam Lindsay and Jordan Storey were solid again. Potts did a good job defensively, and Ryan Ledson and particularly Ali McCann were brilliant. Key blocks and tackles which allow the other midfielders to push on and stay further up the pitch. The formation is really working right now. The midfield are clicking and Duane Holmes is turning out to be the bargain of the decade. Great energy and a good footballing mind.

Preston fans can feel more and more confident in this team now when it comes to seeing the game out.

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