A 4 game March sees PNE establish themselves in the race for the play offs
After an unbeaten February, Preston travelled to the capital with a strong following on Gentry Day looking to close the gap on 6th place Sheffield Wednesday. It wasn’t to be as a confident Fulham convincing beat an uninspiring Preston. The only positive being the fantastic response for the fans remembering those we have lost over the last 12 months. Preston lost 3-1.
A consecutive away game saw Preston travel to Derby County on the following Tuesday night. Ex-Preston player David Nugent’s shot failing to be dealt with, falling into the path of Vydra who put the Rams ahead, it looked to be a second straight defeat for the travelling boys in yellow until Tom Barkhuizen scored his second goal in as many games in the 95th minute to make sure Preston left Derby with a share of the spoils, the final result 1-1.
Back at Deepdale, Preston invited fifth placed Reading. After a shaky first 20 minutes Preston comfortably scored three, Barkhuizen playing a part in all of them (scoring 2, assisting 1). The performance made people sit up and take notice of Preston, who were the feature game on Channel 5’s ‘Football On 5: The Championship’. Maxwell also kept a clean sheet to ensure the game ended 3-0.
The Lancashire Derby is what followed for Simon Grayson’s men. Blackburn probably feeling
the most confident after drawing 2-2 with Norwich and Fulham, unbeaten in six. Preston started brightly and took the lead on 13 minutes from yet another Barkhuizen goal, who made it five goals in four games, however Blackburn took the lead after the break. Preston looked to be dead and buried until the introduction of Gallagher who slid a through ball to Clarke who passed to McGeady who fired home in the 93rd minute to ensure Preston left Ewood Park with a point, levelling the score to 2-2.
Overall, March was a solid month for Preston North End, with the defeat to Fulham one of those games you just accept you were beaten by a better side and draw a line under it, (especially when you consider Fulham then went to Newcastle and beat them 1-3). The two draws felt like wins as a last minute equaliser secured a point at both Derby and Blackburn which shows Preston are no longer in the business of giving up.
The Preston fans also deserve credit for the fantastic stat that came out after the Blackburn game that Preston had taken a total of 14,000 fans to the last 3 Saturday away games – 4,765 to Wigan, 2,821 to Fulham and 6,005 to Blackburn – if you factor in the 435 fans who also travelled to Derby on a Tuesday night, it is an impressive away following by any standard. A credit to ourselves.
On March 10th Aiden McGeady was named February’s Player of the Month. Simon Grayson was also nominated for February Manager of the Month, but narrowly missed out to Huddersfield’s David Wagner.
Preston finish the month in 9th place on 57 points, 5 points behind 6th placed Sheffield Wednesday. A busy April is ahead, so lets hope Grayson has used his experience to take full advantage of the international break and finish the season on a high.
04/03/17 Fulham 3 – 1 Preston North End
07/03/17 Derby County 1 – 1 Preston North End
11/03/17 Preston North End 3 – 0 Reading
18/03/17 Blackburn Rovers 2 – 2 Preston North End