Preston exorcised their derby day demons by beating Blackpool 1-0 at Deepdale on Tuesday night with Cameron Archer bagging the only goal.
North End needed a big performance. Derby day defeats to Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers earlier in the season were weighing heavy on this squad.
Another pitiful performance like the one at Bloomfield Road in October simply wouldn’t be tolerated and every one of those players – bar Bambo Diaby and Cameron Archer – will remember the sheer anger after that defeat.
Add in two straight defeats to Luton Town and Derby County, Preston needed to show some fight and bottle in order to produce a derby day victory.
That’s exactly what North End showed.
It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t how Ryan Lowe would always like to win games, but Preston got the job done; they proved their character in a game that means so much to every North End fan.
Archer’s goal won it, drilling a left-footed strike past Chris Maxwell after a super break from Emil Riis.
That one moment of quality was enough to win it but so many other players were outstanding and may not quite grab the headlines.
Patrick Bauer, Sepp van den Berg and Andrew Hughes were colossal at the back whilst Brad Potts set the tone with a thunderous early challenge.
Greg Cunningham was the calm head down the left whilst the midfield stepped up after various question marks of late.
Ben Whiteman was aggressive, always on the front foot. Daniel Johnson worked his socks off and this night will have meant so much to Alan Browne.
Browne has come under fire at various points this term; an early-season row with fans at Huddersfield, his red card away at Blackpool, indifferent form of late.
Browne threw all of that out of the window to turn in a true captain’s performance, shining throughout against the Tangerines.
His passionate celebration with Lowe at full time summed it up; Browne put his heart and soul into this one.
Archer and Riis maybe weren’t at their fluent best but they did more than enough to hurt Blackpool and grab all three points.
This was a team victory, one that required some real grit, determination and – let’s be real – balls.
Preston showed that in spades, not even allowing a single shot on target from Blackpool.
With a first league win over Blackpool at Deepdale since the 1990’s, this group of Preston players have exorcised their demons and made everybody so, so proud.
What a fitting way to celebrate Sir Tom Finney’s 100th birthday.