Preston North End got back to their best on home soil with a convincing 3-0 victory over struggling Huddersfield Town.
The Terriers had won just once in 2021 and it showed on the pitch, with the Lilywhites showing their ruthless side with goals from Brad Potts, Ched Evans and Scott Sinclair giving them three massive points.
The opening minutes of the contest were not as free-flowing as North End’s midweek clash with QPR were, despite both sides attempting to press high up the pitch.
Isaac Mbenza had Huddersfield’s first chance after seven minutes, firing towards Daniel Iversen’s goal from range but the Dane got a hand up to turn the ball over the bar.
The Terriers continued to put the pressure on the home side, and they had a huge shout for a penalty on 18 minutes as Fraizer Campbell went down under a challenge from PNE defender Andrew Hughes, but referee James Linington was unbothered by the claims.
And just a minute later, Huddersfield skipper Lewis O’Brien had a great chance to open the scoring after latching onto a cheeky through ball from Duane Holmes, but his tame effort was stopped by Iversen.
But against the run of play, it was North End who took the lead. Ched Evans played a delightful through ball into the path of Scott Sinclair, whose effort was stopped by Ryan Schofield but on the end of the rebound was Brad Potts, who fired the rebound in despite the best efforts of Naby Sarr on the line to deny him.
The rest of the half featured few chances, with Anthony Gordon showing his talent by bursting past Huddersfield defender Rarmani Edmonds-Green before he was brought down, earning the youngster a yellow card.
North End had the better start to the second half, with Potts coming close to doubling his tally for the afternoon.
Ched Evans laid the ball into his path on the edge of the box, but Potts could only strike the crossbar from 20 yards out.
The same two players linked up on 67 minutes, as Potts was fed in down the left-hand side by Alan Browne, and his ball into the box found Evans in a mountain of space – his effort was on target and it took a nick off a Huddersfield defender before hitting the back of the net to make it 2-0 to PNE.
Huddersfield brought on youngsters Aaron Rowe, Kieran Phillips and Scott High in the second half to try and inject some energy, but it didn’t work and they fell further behind on 80 minutes.
Evans set substitute Tom Barkhuizen free with a delightful outside of the foot pass, with the winger setting up Scott Sinclair in the box to fire beyond Schofield in the Terriers goal.
The visitors barely threatened in the second half, with Juninho Bacuna’s deep free kick that was tipped over the bar by Iversen being their best effort as North End settled for just the three goals on a fine afternoon in Lancashire.
FULL TIME: Preston North End 3-0 Huddersfield Town (Potts 23′, Evans 67′, Sinclair 80′)