They may have lost their unbeaten home league record on Monday night, but Preston North End can certainly be satisfied with their overall performance in their 1-0 defeat to West Brom on Monday night.
Up against the league’s top scorers, who were looking to make it five wins in a row to return to the top of the Championship table, only a controversial 90th-minute penalty from Charlie Austin denied Alex Neil’s side what would have been a deserved point from the game.
What made that all the more impressive was that Preston did so with a makeshift back four, with Darnell Fisher, Ben Davies, Patrick Bauer and Andrew Hughes all missing through injury.
One of those who stepped into the defence for Preston was Alan Browne, with the midfielder stepping into to an unnatural right-back position in place of Darnell Fisher, while also taking the captain’s armband in the absence of Paul Gallagher.
So how did Browne cope with stepping into those two roles?
Here, we put the spotlight on the Irishman’s performance against West Brom, in order to find out.
Despite the fact that he found himself in a somewhat unfamiliar position on the pitch on Monday, and against one of the league’s most potent attacks no less, the stats certainly suggest that Browne took to his task impressively against the Baggies.
With a pass success rate of 73%, Browne does seem to have been a largely assured presence on the ball for Preston at the back, despite the pressure he often found himself put under by the Baggies’ attack.
What was perhaps even more impressive however, was the out and out defensive work the Irishman did throughout the course of the match.
Although a defensive duel success rate of just 44% may not seem like the most effective, it should be remembered that Browne was not playing in his natural position on Monday, and that he was up against one of the division’s most effective attackers this season in the shape of West Ham loanee Grady Diangana.
Furthermore, with that percentage coming after Browne entered in 16 defensive duels against the Baggies, there can be no questioning his commitment to the cause on Monday, and that does mean he won no fewer than seven duels, which does make that percentage seem more admirable given the circumstances.
Add to that the fact that Browne made five interceptions against West Brom, and it appears that even in the unfamiliar position he found himself in on Monday, he was still able to read the game effectively, and to the benefit of his side.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game however, was the sheer number of recoveries Browne made, with the stand-in right-back winning possession back for Preston 19 times against the Baggies, demonstrating the level of his determination to perform well for the club, and suggesting that he did indeed lead by example in his role as captain on Monday.
Interestingly, it appears that that deeper role on the pitch did not altogether end Browne’s attacking threat against the Baggies, with the Irishman completing all three of the crosses he attempted successfully, highlighting the problem he was still able to cause the West Brom defence with his balls into the box.
While playing Browne at right-back is unlikely to have been a selection decision that Neil would have wanted to make on Monday night, the performance that the 24-year-old subsequently went on to put in against one of the division’s top side, means that the Preston boss certainly isn’t going to have too many concerns about having to make that call again, should he ever need to do so.