Preston North End secured a vital 2-0 win at Stoke City on Wednesday night to ensure that they would remain inside the Championship’s top six places, keeping themselves in the race for the automatic promotion too.
The win at Stoke means the Lilywhites have now won back to back games in the league, following their 2-1 win at Wigan Athletic last weekend, and Alex Neil’s side have also managed to pick up four wins in their previous five matches in the Championship to really put themselves in the promotion mix.
Neil’s side were not at their fluent best for large spells of the game against a Stoke side who themselves headed into the game full of belief after they beat Charlton Athletic 3-1 at home last weekend, but Preston were able to show their resilience to come away with all three points.
During the opening half of the game it was Stoke who were applying most of the attacking pressure and creating the most problems in the final third, but the Lilywhites managed to dig in and keep the hosts at bay, before they went on to win the game with goals in the second period from Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen.
One player in particular who delivered yet another standout performance was Ben Davies, who was instrumental in helping Preston keep their hosts from opening the scoring in the first half, as the defender continued what has largely been an excellent season on a personal note.
Can you name every Preston North End league position from the last 14 seasons?
Here then, we take a look at how Davies performed in the win at Stoke…
Davies has been able to form a very solid a reliable partnership with Patrick Bauer at the heart of Preston’s defence so far this season, and the pair were again paired together in the starting line-up by Neil for the trip to Stoke on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old has delivered some excellent individual performances so far this term, and he continued that against Stoke, with the defender making three vital blocks throughout the game, including ones from both Tyrese Campbell and Sam Clucas in the first half to prevent the Lilywhites from falling behind.
The defender was also able to help Preston get the ball out of their penalty area on numerous occasions, as Stoke delivered plenty of crosses into the penalty area in their search for a breakthrough, but Davies was – more often than not – on the end of those crosses making an impressive nine clearances throughout the game.
When Davies was not blocking shots, or clearing the ball out of the danger area, he was managing to win the ball back for his side, with the defender making two tackles and one interception against Stoke – and with the 24-year-old in that sort of form, it was no surprise to see the Lilywhites manage to come away with a clean sheet.
Davies was also able to provide a threat in the box at the other end from set pieces, playing a part in the opening goal of the game with his header from a corner eventually finding Alan Browne, who turned in the rebound, whilst he also helped to set up Barkhuizen for Preston’s second to seal the win.
These are the sorts of performances that have some people believing that Davies could be ready for the Premier League next season, and the Lilywhites will be hoping that he is in the top flight with them next term after keeping this pacesetters in touching distance on this busy midweek.