Preston picked up another home win on Wednesday night, beating Stoke City 3-1 at Deepdale.
North End were beaten at Swansea City on Saturday, but hit back with a superb display against the struggling Potters.
Alex Neil again sprung surprises in his starting line-up. Tom Barkhuizen was given the nod as the central striker, whilst Josh Harrop started on the left flank. Harrop hadn’t even been in the matchday squad in the Championship this season, but was suddenly starting against Stoke.
It didn’t take long for Neil’s shock decisions to pay off. Stoke’s defenders were terrified of Barkhuizen’s pace in behind, and his chasing of a ball over the top resulted in Daniel Johnson scoring an early opener.
The second followed shortly after, with Barkhuizen’s pace again causing chaos. This time, the ball fell to Billy Bodin, and his tame effort somehow squirmed through Jack Butland and in.
More slack Stoke defending handed Preston the third, with Harrop intercepting Peter Etebo’s wayward pass. He found Johnson, and when Butland actually saved his shot, Harrop was on hand to score the rebound.
James McClean pulled one back for Stoke late on, but that wasn’t enough to take the shine off Preston’s win. With a makeshift left back and striker, as well as a shock start for Harrop, North End made light work of Stoke.
Boss Neil will be delighted with the win, and that his decisions paid off. Barkhuizen caused mayhem behind two big centre backs, and Harrop was bright.
Harrop was able to float around the pitch, showing great footwork and neat passing. His goal was a fantastic moment, his first league strike since his torn ACL injury almost a year ago.
Many Preston fans love Harrop, and feel he should be given more chances by Neil. He really took his chance on Wednesday, scoring and impressing throughout his surprise start.
Fans have taken to Twitter to hail Harrop, branding him ‘class’. Others think his display proves he needs more playing time, but whether Neil gives it to him is another matter entirely.
Exactly why Harrop should be starting! Johnson is a different player at 10. Up the Nobbers! 👏 #pnefc
— Chris Riley (@ChrisRiley25) August 21, 2019
Harrop’s been our best player, he’s moved the ball really well; nailed on to be dropped for Saturday #pnefc
— Adam Astley (@adamjastley) August 21, 2019
Good win and performance all round tonight, thought Harrop had his best game for us since he joined us, as for the referee though…
— Oli Whelan (@OliWhelan) August 21, 2019
Get in!! Harrop should be one of the first names on the teamsheet, class act. DJ has stepped up massively recently. Great performance 🙌 #pnefc
— Ashley (@Aimms95) August 21, 2019
Get in Josh Harrop- had a great game. Hope he gets a solid run in the team #pnefc
— Harry Shaw (@shawdog_93) August 21, 2019
I know I said it earlier but mega impressed with harrop. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 #pnefc
— Channing Chapman (@cnchapman_x) August 21, 2019
Harrop was class tonight tbf! #pnefc
— charlie winyard (@charlie_winyard) August 21, 2019
Time to give Harrop some more game time. #pnefc
— Matt Culbert (@culbert96) August 21, 2019
All the team played well tonight buzzing for Harrop what a player.#Pnefc
— Ste🏴 (@Ste__73) August 21, 2019