Preston North End 0 - West Bromwich Albion 4

Date: Saturday 30th September 2023 
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
(3-4-2-1) Woodman, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Potts, McCann (Brady, 45), Ledson (Whiteman, 63), Millar, Holmes (Frökjaer-Jensen, 64), Browne, Osmajic (Keane, 64)
Unused subs: Cornell, Cunningham, Stewart, Woodburn, Whatmough
(3-5-2) Palmer 7.7, Kipré 7.7, Bartley 7.1, Pieters 6.7 (Townsend, 85 6.8), Furlong 7.3, Diangana 8.0 (Sarmiento, 66 6.9), Wallace 7.3, Yokuslu 7.9 (Molumby, 66 6.3), Phillips 7.6 (Ávila Gordón, 85 6.9), Mowatt 8.8, Swift 7.8 (Chalobah, 78 5.9)
Unused subs: Griffiths, Thomas-Asante, Fellows, Taylor
Manager: Carlos Corberán  8.2
Scorers: Mowatt (29), Furlong (4), Phillips (62), Bartley (87)
Referee: Josh Smith 7.2
Attendance: 16,658   Home Fans 4.7   Away Fans 7.8
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 10

Brendan Clegg:

Well that was it. The season has lift-off! A blockbuster performance in which every player was outstanding as we dominated what should’ve been a confident, powerful Preston team. This was as good as anything we’ve seen in years, not just for the scoreline but for the control of the game.

A few head scratchers in the starting lineup with BTA rested due to 3 games in a week. On seeing the 11 I thought it would be Phillips up top with Grady left and Wallace right but the big positive I saw was that it must be a 4-2-3-1.

I got the formation right but Phillips was left, Grady was right and Jed was up top.

The transformation from our system switch was immediately obvious. With the extra man in midfield instead of defence allowing us to press up top and get bodies forward, and with Phillips and Grady holding the width a lot more to give Swift spaces to play in with Jed stretching then we just looked a different proposition- one that looked like it would score every time we went forward.

Elsewhere Mowatt was exceptional with his one touch passing and eye to play forwards and Yokuslu looked much happier with less ground to cover and sitting deeper between 2 centre backs.

Bartley and Kipre looked really strong, Pieters was sound defensively and shifted the ball well and Furlong actually had an out ball and also could get forward.

The first goal, nice and early set the tone with quick and efficient play before a great finish.

The second would’ve been equally stylish but for a sold short pass from Swift but Mowatt read the block and then showed that final third nous, as he did all game, that Molumby will never possess no matter how many kilometres he runs in a game.

Preston didn’t have a sniff until half time as we ran them ragged.

2nd half they whereas you might think they’d rally they were more like a scared boxer coming off the stool after 6 rounds of punishment. We dominated again, attacked at will and after a great 3rd was disallowed Phillips scored via deflection after another great move.

At 3-0 the subs came and with them our fluidity and cohesion understandably dropped and we sat deeper but even though Preston had lots more of the ball we still looked more of a threat.

Eventually after some decent defending Bartley bundled home a deserved 4th and the scenes at the end with the players visibly ecstatic and celebrating told you everything- they think we’re about to click too.

As Pepe Mel used to say in what was possibly the only sentence of English he knew - THIS IS THE WAY!

To take apart an opponent that has done so well so comprehensively just shows you - play this way, be aggressively on the front foot, get bodies forward and take risks… the league really isn’t very good again and we’ll earn our rewards.

Let’s follow it up with a couple of other solid results this week.

  • Palmer - 7 There when needed. Solid and reliable kicking.
  • Furlong - 8 Great goal, looked confident and strong, some great passes.
  • Bartley - 7 Loved it but took no risks. Clearly still a top centre back at this level, under a coach like Corberan.
  • Kipre - 7 Looked really solid and used the ball so well.
  • Pieters - 7 Very assured, made great choices and read it well.
  • Yokuslu - 7 Just really solid and dominated everything in range. Looked much better.
  • Mowatt - 8 Really good, moved so well to make passes easy for others, great finish, just made great choices all game.
  • Grady - 7 He really isn’t an enigma, just get him on the ball early in the final 3rd before opponents are set in and he terrifies defences. A constant threat but a big shift the other way too when needed.
  • Swift - 7 Actually hit some terrible passes and was wasteful but his effort and constant probing just kept causing them problems.
  • Phillips - 7 A beast all game, strong off either foot and covered Pieters so well.
  • Wallace - 7 Utterly selfless running, got others into it, made space and kept the press going.
  • Molumby - 6 We naturally dropped off but did his job.
  • Sarmiento - 6 Did his job defensively but we stopped getting forward as much.
  • Townsend - 6 Kept us solid.
  • Chalobah & Pipa not on long enough to mark.

This is it. Have a proper go at teams like this and let’s see many how points we can get before the January transfer deadline danger…