Preston’s unbeaten Championship run extended to eight games on Saturday afternoon with a 5-1 thrashing of Barnsley.
North End had drawn two consecutive games, enduring stalemates with Bristol City and Middlesbrough. Barnsley visited Deepdale looking for a first away win of the season, but left with an absolute hiding.
Preston went ahead as David Nugent set up Tom Barkhuizen, whose shot was parried straight to Daniel Johnson to head home. North End were completely dominant, but couldn’t find the second goal before Cameron McGeechan scrambled in an equaliser for the Tykes.
That was their first away goal of the season, and Alex Neil certainly got a response from his side after the break. Daniel Johnson broke clear twice in quick succession, first teeing up Barkhuizen to make it 2-1, before going himself to add a third.
Barkhuizen ran half the length of the pitch to tee up a rare Ben Pearson goal, and Josh Harrop put the icing on the cake with a fifth. North End move up to third with that win, and boast the best goal difference in the Championship.
Neil will be delighted with such a strong home showing, and especially with the performance of striker Nugent, who came in for his first start since returning to the club this summer.
It’s been over 12 years since Nugent started a home game for Preston, and having built up his fitness, his moment finally came. His link-up play was fantastic, whilst he wasn’t shy of a battle with the Barnsley defenders.
For Nugent to have remodelled himself is a credit to him. He was a lightning-quick poacher in his first spell at Deepdale, but with his pace largely gone, he is now a clever forward who can win headers and lead the line. One constant from his first spell to now is that he remains a pest for centre backs.
Nugent will be proud of his performance, with the only disappointment being that he couldn’t cap it off with a goal. The chance did come; Barkhuizen’s second half cross found its way to Nugent, but he could only scuff the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
Still, it didn’t really take any shine off Nugent’s display. North End fans took to Twitter to hail Nugent’s performance, praising his link-up play whilst branding him ‘class’ and ‘brilliant’ in an encouraging outing for the veteran.
Thought Nugent was top notch today, easy to say when you already love the guy but his hold up and link up play was top notch. He may not be the prolific striker we once now but still has bags of quality. #pnefc
— Choppers Barbershop Preston (@ChoppersBarber1) October 5, 2019
Nugent was class today. If only he banged.
— Adam (@Browny___) October 5, 2019
Sensational today. Absolutely battered them for 90 minutes. DJ just different gravy. Perfect game for Gally to run. Thought Nugent was excellent too. Barnsley one of the worst sides I’ve ever seen in the second tier. #pnefc
— Adam Salisbury (@AdamSalisbury1) October 5, 2019
We have such better movement with Nugent on the pitch
— Ryan Moss (@RyanMoss96) October 5, 2019
Looking good with Nuge up top #pnefc
— Coach Matt Balshaw (@mbalshaw17) October 5, 2019
Nugent on fire 🔥 #pnefc
— SI CAMPBELL (@SICAMPBELL1) October 5, 2019
Very easy win in the end. Thought Nugent was immense. Long season ahead for Barnsley fans. Worked hard but absolutely nowhere near the quality required on that showing. #pnefc
— Andy Hornby (@AndyHornby) October 5, 2019
Brilliant performance and a well deserved score line. Quality team performance and Stand out performances by Johnson and Nugent (we'll forget that shot). I'm starting to feel 'giddy'. #COYW #pnefc @BBCLancsSport
— Paul Slater (@PaulSlater31) October 5, 2019
Superb performance today, should have been 4 up at half time. Second half our class showed. Nugent was brilliant, such a clever player, he could be massive for us this season. Johnson was great also, hopefully Neil now realises his best position! Third in the league! #pnefc
— Gareth Whittle (@garethwhittle24) October 5, 2019