Preston North End dominated Blackpool in the Lancashire derby on Saturday lunchtime, with a comfortable 3-1 win victory.

The game felt as if it had been won by half time with Blackpool unable to really lay a glove on North End throughout the contest. The Tangerines look destined for relegation now, whilst Preston can hope for a good end to the season following this morale boosting win.

Potts gets things going in style

Preston made a strong start to the game, but it has often been the case in the past that we haven’t made it count. Although Blackpool did hit the post early on, North End had started on the front foot and we quickly getting into attacking areas.

When Andrew Hughes whipped a ball in from the left, Brad Potts peeled off waiting for a rebound. It fell straight to him, and after one touch, he couldn’t have hit it any sweeter. From the Alan Kelly Town End it was a shock to see it fly into the net. Those in the Bill Shankly Kop would have had a perfect view of it, and Potts was quick to celebrate in front of the tangerine half of that stand.

Unfortunately for Potts, he spent two years at Blackpool earlier in his career, but it was clear he enjoyed scoring that one. It was a sweet moment, and you felt like it was the perfect player to get that first goal. The celebrations from both the players and the fans after that goal seemed to go on for ages. It set the tone for the rest of the afternoon and North End never looked back.

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Brad Potts has gone through some tough times in his four year Preston career, but the standing ovation he received on Saturday when he left the pitch showed he is firmly a fan’s favourite now. Always one to give a determined and committed performance, he’s now written his name into derby day folklore.

Preston North End v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

Browne and Whiteman shine in midfield

Alan Browne, Ben Whiteman and Daniel Johnson on their day can cause problems for anyone in this league. Of course they all know what the rivalry means to this club now. Whiteman was on the scoresheet in the fixture at Bloomfield Road earlier this season, but his goal on Saturday was key in deciding the result.

His free-kick effectively put the game to bed before the half an hour mark. His clever shot around the wall, caught out former PNE ‘keeper Chris Maxwell, and Preston were in cruise control.

It was one of Browne’s better games for a while as well, and his energetic display helped the team carry on punishing Blackpool, and that’s how the third goal came about. His drive from midfield opened up gaps in the leaky Blackpool defence before Alvaro Fernandez found Tom Cannon who kept up his good form.

Another season of Tom Cannon please

It would make sense for all parties if Everton can secure their Premier League status. This has been Cannon’s first taste of senior football, and he’s getting better and better each week. He’s clearly enjoying his time here, and his finishing has been great lately.

When he first arrived you could see it was someone who was desperate to impress and get on the scoresheet. Now he takes that extra touch to set himself up, and three well taken goals in his last four home games have shown that he is benefitting from his spell at the club. The strike on Saturday was inch perfect, in off the post, and the celebrations that ensued afterwards were ones to savour.

If Everton stay in the top flight he’s unlikely to get many opportunities for The Toffees and for everyone involved, another year at Preston makes sense. The 20-year-old already looks a better player than Troy Parrott, who is a year older, and is already onto his fourth loan spell experiencing the Football League.

Preston North End v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Rich Linley – CameraSport via Getty Images

Freedom to enjoy the rest of the season

It has often felt like this season never really got going. There was a good feel about the place in the summer, and the fans played their part with 15,000 buying season tickets. Despite promising performances early on, the team struggled to score, and we were left with too many draws.

The football on show at home has been turgid at times, although there have been some great away wins to savour. A couple of months ago when Preston had lost five on the bounce at Deepdale, it was looking like Ryan Lowe couldn’t recover. The fans had turned and it quite simply wasn’t good enough.

Heading into half-time 1-0 down to Wigan Athletic, it was toxic. We managed to turn that game around, and the form has been pretty good since.

The results have picked up, and we do seem to have a little bit more of an identity now. Credit to the players and coaching staff for staying strong. The win on Saturday momentarily took us to 9th place, which is incredible when before then we had only scored 14 goals at Deepdale.

There has never been any danger of falling into the relegation mix, and despite how many points we have been off the play-offs at any one time, I don’t think anyone has truly believed we were good enough to get in there.

Yet we are only five points off. This game was the big one though. We had to win this, and this is what the season would have been remembered for. We’re going to finish mid-table, but at least we can look back on this campaign in the future with rose-tinted glasses because of this fantastic result against The Seasiders. With relegation on the horizon for them, it could be the last time we play them for some while.

This win was a weight off the players shoulders, and you could see how relieved they were at the end. They effectively completed a lap of honour at the end bouncing around to ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. It was great to see.

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