It seems to be an inevitability of football these days that players will always score against their former clubs, and there may be no better evidence to support that cliche than Preston’s 2-1 win over Charlton at Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.
Both teams would find themselves conceding to their former players, with Preston eventually coming from behind to secure a win that puts them back within reach of the play-off places, while doing nothing to help Charlton’s own concerns at the wrong end of the Championship table.
It would be the hosts who would be first feel that bitter taste of a familiar face coming back to haunt them, when, with just five minutes on the clock, Alfie Doughty broke down the left-hand for the visitors, before pulling the ball back across the face of goal, where Andre Green – recalled from a loan spell at Preston and sent to Charlton by Aston Villa earlier this month after a lack of game for the Lilywhites – was on hand to tap Lee Bowyer’s side into an early lead from close range.
Preston however, were stirred into a response by that early setback, with January signing Scott Sinclair – handed his first start for the club after his cameo in the draw at Blackburn last week – breaking into the area before losing his footing at the crucial moment.
After that, Josh Harrop forced a save from Dillon Phillips with an effort from 25 yards, before Daniel Johnson – making his long-awaited return from injury – dipped a half volley from the edge of the area just over the bar.
Eventually though, Preston would find their equaliser, as Josh Harrop followed up his stunner at Blackburn last week with yet another beauty.
Picking up the ball on the edge of the area after linking up with Darnell Fisher, the attacker produced an outstanding curling effort that nestled brilliantly into the far top left-hand corner of the Charlton net on the half-hour mark.
Minutes later, North End almost snatched a quickfire second, with that man Sinclair again skipping through the Charlton defence, forcing a parried save out of Phillips, who just able to dive on the loose ball before Harrop could follow up, with the Addicks then surviving some unrelenting pressure from their hosts to make it to half time with the scores still level.
That resilience from the visitors however, would hold for less than ten minutes of the second period, and this time it was they who would be left to rue the reunion with an old face, as Patrick Bauer – scorer of the 94th-minute play-off final winner that earnt Charlton promotion to the Championship last season – headed in Harrop’s corner to give North End a deserved lead.
As it turned out, it wouldn’t just be in attack that Charlton would be frustrated by their former star.
With the Addicks going in search of an equaliser of their own, Bauer would return to his day job in defence impressively, making a number of important interceptions to help his current side see out a not insignificant spell of Charlton pressure, with the visitors not helped by the absence of their three top scorers this season, with Lyle Taylor and Macauley Bonne absent through injury and Connor Gallagher recalled from his loan by Chelsea.
That however, is likely to be of little concern to Preston – who did have chances of their own, with Tom Barkhuizen, in particular, going close to making the win safe – before they ultimately saw it out to bring an end to a six-game winless run and move within a point of the play-off places, while leaving Charlton looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone with what must now be an increasing amount of nerves.