Preston stay in the automatic promotion places after a 3-1 home win over Huddersfield Town this afternoon.
North End went top last weekend with a 1-0 win at Charlton Athletic, but were pushed backed down to second by West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.
Alex Neil will have been looking for a strong performance before the international break. He got just that, with Jayden Stockley giving Preston an ideal start, heading home from close range after Paul Gallagher’s free kick hit the woodwork.
North End were dominant in the first half and took full advantage, with Alan Browne doubling the lead. Tom Barkhuizen’s cross was aimed for Stockley, but when he was wrestled to the ground, Browne swooped in to fire home.
The win was sealed in the second half, as Barkhuizen’s cross was handled by Terence Kongolo for yet another penalty. That was Preston’s eighth penalty of the season, and Gallagher stepped up to keep the 100% success rate going.
Juninho Bacuna did pull one back for Huddersfield with a fine run and finish, but Preston held strong at the end to record a 3-1 win. North End sit second in the table with 31 points from 16 games, just two points behind leaders West Brom after a superb start to the season.
Preston turn in strong display despite absentees
This looked like a tricky game before kick off. Huddersfield came into the game with a seven-game unbeaten run, and boss Danny Cowley won the Championship manager of the month award on Friday. Add in that Preston were without Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson, and this looked like a real test.
However, Preston were impressive throughout. The pressing play was excellent, chance after chance was created, and whilst knocking it up to Stockley was a focus again, some of the movement and interplay was outstanding. This was a performance with so many great aspects, and to do it without Pearosn and Johnson makes it all the more impressive.
The excuses keep on coming
Still though, Preston aren’t getting the deserved credit from rival fans. Every win is met with the same landslide of excuses; the referee, luck, penalties, facing a team on an off day, cheating, diving, it goes on and on.
Preston’s penalty record has largely been down to clear fouls and handballs, rather than cheating. North End use gamesmanship well, we can’t hide from that, but the fact is that Preston are actually a good team.
West Brom and Leeds United have spent more, have bigger fanbases and bigger expectations, but Preston are sandwiched between them on merit – not for any of those excuses.