Starting XI

Declan Rudd – 7

A solid showing from Rudd, who didn’t exactly have his busiest afternoon of all time. Caught out a little for Bolton’s goal, but produced a superb save to deny Josh Magennis and secure all three points. Decent enough distribution as his upturn in form continues.

Darnell Fisher – 8

Darnell is back. It may be down to Joe Rafferty’s arrival as real competition, but Fisher is getting back to his best. He was one of our most creative players in the first half, and then showed tenacity defensively after the break. It’s great to see him performing as we know he can.

Jordan Storey – 8

Boy, do we have a real talent on our hands. Storey is the total package, and excelled again on Saturday. He had to come up against a couple of big, physical, experienced strikers in Magennis and then Clayton Donaldson, but he was unfazed, defending well whilst taking care of possession when building from the back.

Preston’s Andrew Hughes and Ben Davies. (Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Ben Davies – 8

Always so calm and composed but also knows when to simply get rid, Davies joined Storey in another fine performance. He maybe made a mistake for the Bolton goal, dropping back to the goal line instead of sticking with Donaldson, but this was another impressive all-round display between one of our most exciting centre back partnerships in many years.

Andrew Hughes – 7

It feels like the same words get used to describe Hughes every game; solid, decent, okay, etc etc. That’s pretty much how you’d describe his display on Saturday too. He supported the attack well without being super-dynamic, and was strong in the air defensively. He should have been more switched on for Bolton’s goal and closed down Sammy Ameobi quicker, but that was the one blot on his copy book.

Ben Pearson – 9

What more can we say about him at this point? Pearson ran the show in midfield once again, not only dictating play from deep but also displaying his unheralded pace with some driving runs forward. Maybe guilty of a touch of complacency in the second half, losing the ball in his own half a couple of times, but we’re nitpicking. And he even pulled out of a 50/50 that he would usually have flown in to before being replaced by Ryan Ledson. An almost afternoon for Pearson.

Tom Barkhuizen – 8

Barkhuizen is a wild ride at this best of times, and that was the case again on Saturday. He drove one great opportunity wide and squandered a one-on-one, before blazing past Jonathan Grounds and teeing up Alan Browne for the opening goal. Barkhuizen continued to threaten in behind and grabbed the second goal, capping off an up and down afternoon. Yet with Grounds ironically cheered off the pitch by Bolton fans having struggled with Barkhuizen all day and having had a hand in both goals, it’s hard to be too critical.

Tom Barkhuizen scores Preston’s second goal against Bolton. (Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Alan Browne – 9

Quite simply one of the best attacking midfielders in the Championship. Had one cleared off the line before driving home an inch-perfect opener, and then headed just wide. With three goals in four now, Browne has taken his tally for the season to 11 goals, and he displayed that lung-busting ability to get up and support the striker once again.

Brad Potts – 7

Another strong performance from Potts. Didn’t have a huge impact on the game like some others in the final third and maybe played safe with possession on a few occasions, but you can see why Alex Neil likes him. His ability to get up and down the pitch like Browne and make those second runs is so hard to deal with, and he was unlucky to hit the post when played in by Sean Maguire.

Paul Gallagher – 7

Stationed out on the left flank, Gallagher was a constant source of crosses and kept attacks ticking over whilst linking up well with Hughes. He’s played centrally, on the right and now on the left in recent weeks and continues to be a key player, offering that experience and composure in a midfield containing outstanding athletes.

Sean Maguire – 8

Getting back to his best. Finally used up front having been played on the left of late, Maguire was smart and difficult to pick up, whilst his through ball for Barkhuizen’s goal was superb. Dangerous whether dropping deep or running in behind, this was the real Maguire. Unlucky not to score when he danced through the Bolton defence in the first half.

Preston boss Alex Neil. (Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Substitutes

In truth, Lukas Nmecha, Daniel Johnson and Ryan Ledson didn’t really have long enough on the pitch to make an impact and earn a concrete rating.

Nmecha brought a late threat on the counter as Bolton attempted to push up, and saw one shot saved from a Maguire pass on the counter attack. Ledson and DJ were fresh legs in the middle of the park and helped see out the game.

Have something to tell us about this article?