Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images

Preston post-match notebook: Riis on track to overtake Cresswell’s impressive stat

Preston North End strolled to a comfortable 2-0 win over Luton Town on Saturday.

The ease of the win was mainly down to two Danes at either end of the pitch.

Emil Riis continued his impressive goal scoring run whilst Daniel Iversen was as solid as ever in between the sticks.

Goal shows confidence is high for Riis

Fresh from signing a new contract with the club, tying him to the club till 2025, Emil Riis celebrated in style. He bagged his first brace in the league for The Lilywhites and it was kicked off in style.

The first goal came out of nowhere and without it North End may have struggled to get the win. Tom Barkhuizen released Riis down the right hand side of the edge of the area and the Dane unleashed a rocket of a shot which flew past Simon Sluga. It caught everyone by surprise but it shows how confident Riis is now, taking on that sort of shot. There’s surely no way it was a cross, as no one would have wanted to get their head on that!

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First proper goal scorer at this level for a long time

Since returning to this level in 2015, goal scorers have been hard to come by. Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson were good and reliable scorers for a season or so each. Aside from that we’ve had to rely on midfielders Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen getting the bulk of the goals.

Hugill and Robinson’s 13 goals each in all competitions in 16-17 and 18-19 respectively is the highest achieved at this level since 2007 when David Nugent finished on 17 goals.

Riis finds himself on 11 goals already at the end of October. Seven in the league and four in the Carabao Cup. He only scored three goals last season but looks a different player this time round. He’s thriving on playing in front of the fans and is on track to get the most goals at this level for the club since Richard Cresswell scored 20 in the 2004-2005 season. Jonathan Macken is the only other player to reach the 20 goal landmark in the second tier in the last 40 years.

PRESTON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 30: Preston North End’s Emil Riis Jakobsen scores his side’s second goal from the penalty spot beating Luton Town’s Simon Sluga during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Luton Town at Deepdale on October 30, 2021 in Preston, England. (Photo by Rich Linley – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Barkhuizen shines at wing-back

Many had called to see Sepp van den Berg played at centre-back after an impressive showing against his parent club Liverpool. He kept that place against Luton and it meant there was an opening at right-wing back.

Joe Rafferty could count himself unlucky not to even make the squad after he played well in that Liverpool game. Instead Barkhuizen took the spot and it gave the team a lot more of an attacking threat. Luckily Barky didn’t have much defending to do so it allowed him to get forward as often as possible.

Obviously we know his pace can cause problems and he had a hand in both goals. Certainly a more natural attacking threat than Sepp but he will certainly have tougher games from a defensive aspect in this league.

PRESTON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 30: Preston North End’s Ali McCann battles for possession with Luton Town’s Jordan Clark during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Luton Town at Deepdale on October 30, 2021 in Preston, England. (Photo by Rich Linley – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Ali McCann impresses again

Another who had a good game against Liverpool in midweek was Ali McCann. I’ve spoken a lot about the competition in midfield this season and on Saturday it meant Daniel Johnson had to settle for a place on the bench.

McCann completed his first 90 minutes in the league for us and his endless energy is an important asset to that team. He won the penalty for the second goal and whilst his defensive qualities are clear to see, he likes to get forward to.

He’s strong in the tackle and at 21 years-old he’s only going to get better. He looks to be a shrewd signing already but DJ and Ryan Ledson won’t be happy at missing out on a place in the lineup.

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