Lillywhites given the Blues

Andy Munro enjoys Blues’ win over Preston and what came after.

This was the architypal must-win game and for once this season Blues rose to the occasion.

Gary Rowett set up the team with four at the back, using Krystian Beilik as the midfield shield and this certainly worked defensively with arguably the Polish midfielder man of the match. Alongside him Pak was almost equally influential retaining possession and setting up attacks.

This gave the back four a look of solidity even though Aiwu had to be bailed out a couple of times. Rowett’s emphasis on defensive discipline meant that Laird kept mostly to his own half whilst on the other flank Buchanan was excellent, challenging Beilik for the MogM title.

Further forward, Myoshi was a veritable will o’the wisp although James was strangely quiet despite being in his more preferred forward role. However the star turn was Juninho Bacuna, who tormented the right side of Preston’s defence even if his final ball was sometimes lacking

Up top, Jay Stansfield worked (as usual) tirelessly and was rightly rewarded with the winner when he seized on a mistake to run through almost from the halfway line to cooly slot home the only goal of the game.

Apart from one heart-stopping goalmouth melee Blues saw out the match comfortably and could even have had a second when Gardner was unlucky with a lob over the keeper which shaved the wrong side of the post

A word also for the more than decent-sized crowd who were vociferous throughout the game and undoubtedly helped the momentum. Most stayed on to enjoy an excellent session from UB40 occasionally interrupted by rowdy renditions of Keep Right On.