As 2022 draws to a close we look back at some of the highlights of the year. In truth there aren’t many to choose from as a lot of Preston’s wins this calendar year were by slender margins and not the most appetising of views.

Cameron Archer’s winner against Blackpool stands out for obvious reasons and for me there were two other very impressive displays this year where all the players delivered a top performance.

Preston North End 1-0 Blackpool – 5th April

North End simply had to win this one after being on the wrong end of the result at Bloomfield Road earlier in the season. It was all set up for Cameron Archer to write his name in Preston folklore, and the Aston Villa loanee didn’t disappoint.

Of course it was a nervy affair, made even more tense in the first half when Blackpool ‘keeper Dan Grimshaw received lengthy treatment after a collision with Archer. It led to Chris Maxwell coming on to replace him, and 11 minutes of injury time being played in the first half. Archer scored in the sixth minute of that after an incisive breakaway from an Emil Riis through ball.

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Preston deserved the three points and at that stage of the season there wasn’t really anything to play for in terms of the league, but the fans needed this one. The image of Cameron shushing the Blackpool fans will live long in the memory, and we will need similar scenes again this season, after another poor result at Bloomfield Road.

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

Preston North End 4-1 Middlesbrough – 7th May

The last game of last season took place at Deepdale, and whilst Preston weren’t chasing anything, Middlesbrough needed a win if they were to sneak into the play-offs. Perhaps the freedom allowed Preston to relax and just play their game.

Everything clicked on the day, with the midfield controlling the game for the first time in quite a while. Cameron Archer and Emil Riis linked up well and both were clearly keen to grab some more goals to finish the season on the high. Daniel Johnson lined up on the left for the second game in a row after scoring two goals against Barnsley and again impressed. Perhaps something Ryan Lowe should consider again?

Riis was harshly denied a hat-trick on the day when one of the goals went down as an own goal, but his double did mean he hit the 20 goal mark for the season.

The game also ended with an emotional farewell for Paul Huntington, who came on for his 306th and final appearance for the club. All in all it was a perfect game against a very good side.

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

Blackburn Rovers 1-4 Preston North End10th December

There’s no doubt about which game has been our most impressive so far this season. The Championship resumed after a break for the World Cup with a Lancashire Derby, but Preston were without seven first-team players. They dominated Blackburn Rovers, and came away with a 4-1 win that took them up to fourth place in the Championship.

There were four players on the bench aged 18 or under, and we had an unfamiliar front pairing of Ched Evans and Ben Woodburn. But it worked, we played on the front foot, and didn’t give Rovers any time on the ball. We forced them into mistakes and we took our chances. Evans and Woodburn had put us 2-0 up and even when Bradley Dack pulled one back, it didn’t knock Lowe’s side.

DJ was at his best in an advanced role, and another Evans goal and a rare goal from Ben Whiteman gave the North End faithful a fantastic Saturday in the snow. What’s happened since then is hard to comprehend. After such a good display we have lost the next three games, and haven’t shown any of the positives since at Ewood Park.

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