Preston picked up another away win on Saturday afternoon, beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 at Ewood Park.
Daniel Johnson’s early strike secured the win, making it five away victories in a row and 10 games unbeaten.
North End often get pegged as a physical side, and whilst that’s true to an extent, we really don’t get enough praise on a technical level.
Yes, we’re committed. We’ll fight and battle, possibly bend the rules a little, and we have a yellow card collector in Ben Pearson. Yet under Alex Neil, North End are regularly playing superb football that doesn’t get plaudits.
Without trying to sound bitter, if Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds had scored Johnson’s goal on Saturday, you’d have seen it 100 times. North End started from the back with goalkeeper Declan Rudd, playing it into centre back Jordan Storey.
Storey found Ryan Ledson, who turned and picked out Paul Gallagher, with a whipped first-time pass picking out Alan Browne. Browne threaded the ball to Lukas Nmecha, who was too quick and powerful for Derrick Williams. The Manchester City loanee got his head up and found Johnson inside the box, who picked out the roof of the net.
It was the perfect goal in terms of progressing through the pitch and having the end product to finish it off. It took just 14 touches of the ball to get from Rudd to the back of the net.
The national media won’t give the goal a second thought, but midfielder Gallagher noted it was an ‘excellent’ goal. In fact, ex-PNE coach Alan Kelly even took to Twitter to hail the goal too.
Kelly praised Ledson, Gallagher, Browne, Nmecha and Johnson for their roles in the goal, calling it ‘textbook’ playing out from the back.
Text book playing out from the GK @pnefc. The weight & direction of pass from Ledsom allowed Gally to thread a 1st time pass through the eye of a needle to Browny, whose touch, Turn & pass were sublime to release Nmecha, all backed up with the midfield run from DJ to score. 👏
— Goalkeeping Skills (@Keepingskills) March 10, 2019
Even since Simon Grayson’s exit, Preston are regularly miscast as a direct side. We are playing fine football, and that may be one of the Championship’s best kept secrets. Saturday’s goal showed that – and there will surely be more to come under Neil.