Lows of a poor defeat at Tranmere and a home draw against Scunthorpe United have been counterbalanced with a deserved win at Exeter and an encouraging draw away at play-off chasing Carlisle who are unbeaten in 15 home games.
Mad March has been a rollercoaster ride where it seemed as if Preston would be destined for a bottom half finish after failing to take chances against a poor Scunthorpe team who rarely threatened the Preston net until the latter stages of the game and it was only an offside flag that prevented Chris Holroyd scoring his first Preston goal. While Graham Cummins managed to end the teams goal drought at Tranmere with an early goal, an embarrassingly poor second half performance saw the Lilywhites slip to a 2-1 defeat on a warm night in Merseyside and there was a lot of anger expressed at the team at the end of the game with the away support loudly shouting “Westley sort it out”
The next two games have showed that he has indeed listened to these chants as PNE claimed four vital points. A brace from influential striker Iain Hume, including an 85th minute winner, ensured a first away win for Westley since taking charge of Preston with a 2-1 victory over struggling Exeter. This success was the first time that Preston had scored more than one goal since the 3-2 home win against Wycombe all the way back in January when the caretaker managers were in charge.
Even though it wasn’t a win, the away draw at Carlisle was perhaps the most promising of the quartet. Before last night, Preston had failed to keep a clean sheet away from home in 2012 and only 3 teams this season (Rochdale, Hartlepool and Tranmere) have stopped Carlisle from scoring. With Carlisle unbeaten in 15 matches at home, a 0-0 draw is a strong result and no less than we deserved after a solid performance where we looked threatening at times with Graham Cummins wondering how he didn’t manage to score after being put one on one with the keeper.
The next two games against Bury and Brentford are ones which we will be looking to get at least four points from to get over the 50 point mark as after that the next three games are Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons and Stevenage. All three of those games will be extremely difficult (including a return to Westley’s old club) and the sooner we can get to 50 points the better as it will lift a weight off the shoulders and mean there is no pressure to get results against a lot of very tough teams in April.
By Preston North End blogger Sean Marshall