It’s been a mixed start to the season for Preston, but let’s hope Sunday’s remarkable comeback win over Brentford can be the catalyst for some consistent form.
North End were 2-0 down against last season’s Championship playoff finalists, but roared back with a stunning second half display to win the game 4-2.
Alex Neil’s men controlled the game for large spells, in another fine afternoon for the midfield pairing of Ben Pearson and Ryan Ledson as they dominated.
We all know how good Pearson is, but the rise of Ledson just shows no sign of slowing down, with the 23-year-old continuing to shine in the heart of Preston’s midfield.
Ledson was a fringe player at the start of 2020, but forced his way into the side after lockdown and hasn’t looked back, making himself one of the first names on the teamsheet.
A stat has now emerged that shows just how good Ledson has been, and how rapidly he is progressing under Alex Neil; it surrounds his key passes, which is usually categorised as a pass directly leading to a shot.
Ledson has racked up nine key passes in four Championship outings this season, which only four players have topped; Jamie Paterson on 10, Marlon Pack with 11, and both Sam Clucas and Gustavo Hamer on 12.
By comparison, Ledson made eight key passes in the whole of last season, and 11 in the whole of the 2018-19 season, which sums up his improved play and importance.
The only other Preston player to have more than four is Brad Potts on five, whilst Scott Sinclair, Seani Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen have combined for just four so far.
Ledson is becoming a creative force, using progressive passing to try and open up defences from deep. Because he takes risks in possession, his passing accuracy isn’t the best, but his role has become vital.
We saw how he opened up the Norwich City defence to create Darnell Fisher’s goal, and whilst it may not always come off, Ledson’s daring approach to forward passes gives North End a new dimension.