Brandon Barker hopes he can kick on with Preston North End after scoring what he described as his ‘best ever goal’ in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win away at Leeds United in the Carabao Cup second round.
The Manchester City loanee took the ball past three Leeds men, running from midway inside his own half to the edge of the opposition area, where he arrowed a delightful strike beyond goalkeeper Jamal Blackman and into the top right corner.
That effort gave ten-man North End – who lost Ryan Ledson to a straight red card half an hour in – the platform for the victory and PNE’s No.21 was pleased not only by the nature of his strike, but the timing of it too, the attacker explaining it provided a confidence boost heading into half-time.
“I think I picked it up just in the middle of our own half and I just ran and ran and it opened up to shoot with my left, so I let one fly,” the 21-year-old told PNE.Com of his superb solo goal.
“I just wanted to get the team up the pitch, we were under the cosh a bit and I was initially going to run into the corner, but I saw that it was one versus one against the centre back and I was always confident that I could beat him and get a shot off.
“Luckily it put us 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time and the boys came in with confidence, we felt we could go onto win the game. I think it really rose our spirits in the game because we were under the cosh a little bit.
“It helped just before half-time, it gave the boys a lift and you could see in the second half with the number of runs and presses we were doing and how we were stopping them. We played with ten men for over 60 minutes which is class from the boys and it was great to be a part of that.
“As soon as I hit it, I just thought, ‘This has got a chance’. The momentum that I got running up helped me out with striking the ball. I was just delighted that we got the win, that’s the most important thing and now we’re in the next round.
“I need to start shooting more, luckily it went in today and it’s probably the best goal I’ve ever scored and hopefully I can do that again.”
Barker has now scored twice in as many starts for North End since signing on loan earlier this month, the winger having also hit the target in the first round of this competition against Morecambe, just shy of a fortnight ago.
The youngster is hopeful this victory can provide an early turning point in the Lilywhites’ season and that his performances can help him break into the starting line-up for Championship action.
“I hope it can be [a turning point], I think in every game that we play you can see the boys always give 110 per cent and I don’t remember a game where a team has dominated us; we go toe to toe with any team.
“We’ve touched on never being scared of any opponent and there’s no reason to fear any team, so hopefully we can kick on from here. We got in their faces straight away. Josh [Harrop] and I closed them down and Louis [Moult] won us the penalty; he was unbelievable and put in a class performance. DJ [Daniel Johnson] put it away and it was a great start.
“I think it [the victory] has been coming and the gaffer said that to us after the game. We’ve been playing really well but we haven’t really been getting the results, we’ve lost three times and that’s not what we’re about.
“We got the win in an important competition which we really want to kick on in and have a good run in. I think the boys dug really deep, the goal at the start helped us settle and going down to ten men is never easy, but the boys put it an absolute shift.
“When I signed I didn’t really play games straightaway and the gaffer has spoken about getting me up to match speed. This competition has helped me and I’m not here just to play games, I’m here to help the team and score goals and that’s what the gaffer has brought me in to do; score goals and create chances and that’s what I want to do when I get the ball.
“I want to drive at players and be isolated one versus one and just help the team out, so hopefully I can kick on and do that.”