In truth, it was an all-round team performance from Preston North End that secured the three points at Ewood Park on Friday night. However there were a few players who particularly stood out.
Ched Evans received the man of the match award from Sky Sports and took the plaudits on the night, so I will concentrate on three other players who shone.
Ryan Ledson is in his third season with Preston now. When he was brought in from Oxford United in 2018, many saw him as the long-term replacement for Ben Pearson. Initially he found it tough to get much game time, due to the form of ‘Pearo’, usually only deputising when he was suspended or injured. 37 league appearances were split across his first two seasons with the club, with many of them coming from the bench.
In the last year though he has established himself at the club, and is an important part of the team now, especially now Pearson has left. Still only 23-years-old, he has a bright future ahead of him, and could captain Preston North End one day. On Friday night he was up for the battle. As well as showing his usual tenacity, he was composed on the ball and you could tell he understood how much the game meant to the fans, despite playing in an empty stadium.
With so many options in the centre of midfield now, there probably will be some rotation, but Ledson remains the best defensive option, and his all round game is improving all the time.
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When Daniel Iversen joined Preston, you could forgive many fans for not knowing too much about him. However supporters of Oldham Athletic and Rotherham United would tell you he had great loan spells with them, and the young Dane has a promising future ahead of him. He’s imposing, and has looked comfortable in all his games for The Lilywhites so far. The save at the very end of the first half on Friday was a match winning one. Another goal for Rovers would have turned the game on it’s head.
He had no right to save it. The flick from Adam Armstrong arrived at some speed, and the ball was behind him when he manage to dive low to his right and keep it out. Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes were an unfamiliar three in front of him, but their steadiness was a testament to how comfortable they felt with Iversen behind them. If there is any chance of signing Iversen permanently in the summer, Preston should seriously look into it.
Liam Lindsay was a deadline day signing, brought in to help cover the absence of Patrick Bauer and the departed Ben Davies. Whilst Lindsay has enjoyed a good career up until now, his lack of game time this season was a little worrying. He has been thrown straight into the action, and on Friday night he was a brick wall in defence. Any balls into the Preston box were headed away with easy by the centre-back. He also managed to be imposing at the other end of the pitch, easily outmuscling Jarrad Branthwaite to score the second goal over the evening, and ultimately the match winner.
Preston will need him to step up and become a bit of a leader in this team. Jordan Storey and Sepp van den Berg are still young. and along with Huntington he has to be the voice in the defence. You can tell he has those leadership qualities about him, and it has been an impressive start to his time with North End already.