Bailey Wright was delighted to mark his return team action with both a goal and a clean sheet after Preston North End secure a vital victory over npower League One leaders Bournemouth.
In what has been a busy week for the Lilywhites, the Australian missed Preston’s midweek defeat against Yeovil Town through suspension, which turned out to be Graham Westley’s last match in charge.
North End put in an improved performance against Bournemouth and Wright acknowledged how important it was for the side to get the win against the in-form Cherries.
“I’m gutted when I miss any game so it wasn’t nice to miss Tuesday through suspension, but it was good to be back today, and in a winning team. And keeping the clean sheet was an added bonus,” said Wright.
“It was great to score; my second goal this season. It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet, but as a defender I’m more pleased by the clean sheet and the win. We needed that today. We all played our part and that’s showed on the pitch. It gives us plenty to build on under whoever is in charge next week.”
Deepdale was at its vibrant best, as the clash with Eddie Howe’s men marked the start of a new era for North End, with Wright dedicating the result to the Club’s loyal supporters, admitting the performance had been a long time coming.
“A lot has happened around the Club in the last week or so with the new manager, and the manager leaving and things like that,” said the 20-year-old.
“It’s been a long time since we won at home and we haven’t been in the best form in recent weeks, so it was important to get back to winning ways and to get three points.
“We needed to get the fans happy and proud about the team that are out there playing for them again and to get them back behind the lads.
“I think we did that well today, to get a 2-0 win against the league leaders, there’s not much more we could ask for today.”
John Dreyer was named as Preston’s caretaker manager during the week, and despite not having a lot of time to work with the squad on the training ground, Wright lauded his temporary boss for his impact on team and the change in their performance.
“I think if you speak to most of the lads we all agree our confidence has been down,” Wright said.
“We haven’t been playing well or getting results, so John has come in and been trying to get us playing and enjoying our football again.
“He’s told us to relax a bit and not let nerves get to us and that showed out there today.
“Everyone was spot on in today in both their attitude and their performance. We all put our bodies on the line and played for each other.
“It was a great performance, so from our point of view I think he’s changed people’s confidence and got us believing in ourselves again.”
Wright reserved special praise for captain John Welsh, who put in a man-of-the-match performance despite his wife going into labour earlier this morning, and the returning Keith Keane, who completed the full 90 minutes as he made his first start since late November.
“Welshy’s wife is obviously in hospital about to give birth, but rather than be distracted, I thought he was fantastic today and put in a real captain’s performance,” said Wright. “We’re made up for him and I think I speak for all the lads when I say good luck to the pair of them.
“Keano came back into the side after injury and everyone’s amazed, including him, that he lasted the full 90 minutes, but that says a lot about him as both a person and a player. He’s an important player for us and it’s great to have him back and I think that showed today.”