Whalley ace Garner is on target again

Joe Garner celebrates his winning goal against Reading
Joe Garner celebrates his winning goal against Reading

Whalley’s Joe Garner continued his good form on Saturday as his third goal in four games was enough to hand Preston victory against Reading at Deepdale.

The former Clitheroe Wolves youngster netted from the spot in the second half to hand North End a second-successive win.

‘Play with freedom’ was the message relayed by Preston manager, Ribble Valley resident Simon Grayson, ahead of the game.

The North End boss is keen to see his side embrace the challenge and expectation of playing in front of their own supporters.

Before Saturday, only one of North End’s four previous Championship victories had arrived at Deepdale.

But Grayson sent his men out in an attacking 4-3-3 formation and with licence to attack the Royals.

In particular, the front three of Garner, Will Keane and Adam Reach were given the freedom to roam the pitch.

The tactics proved to have the desired effect as North End produced arguably their best performance of the campaign at Deepdale, if not all season.

The 1-0 final scoreline flattered the visitors, as the home side failed to make the most of several clear-cut opportunities.

Despite the lack of a cutting edge in front of goal – apart from Garner’s emphatic 
spot-kick – Grayson was thrilled with his men’s attacking intent, coupled with their defensive organisation.

Grayson said: “We played 3-5-2 last week at Burnley, but we decided to change it back to 4-3-3 against Reading because we have played okay at home without getting the results.

“We had to make sure that we were a little bit more positive and try to take the game a little bit more to the opposition, without being too vulnerable on the counter-attack.

“The front three got licence to go wherever they wanted, as long as they were prepared to fill in and do the defensive side of things.

“I thought they did that – I thought they were outstanding.

“We said last week that the result and performance against Burnley should give us confidence because we beat one of the best teams in the division.

“We do tell the players not to be fearful, to express themselves and play with a smile on their faces.”