After a hectic schedule opening up the new season, it would be a month of only three games in October due to an international break. It was a month that on paper looks difficult and by the end of the season would look even more difficult in hindsight given the final Championship standings.
The month kicked off with the international break, with Sean Maguire and Daryl Horgan named in the Republic of Ireland squad for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Maguire’s first inclusion for the senior side.
Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell also received his first call up to the Wales senior squad, with Wales also heading away for their World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Republic of Ireland.
Maguire went on to make his debut for the boys in green, replacing fellow striker Shane Long in the 82nd minute of their 2-0 win over Moldova. Chris Maxwell was an unused substitute for the Welsh.
Following the internationals, it was back to domestic action for North End and a trip to the capital was first on the agenda, travelling to Fulham on the north bank of the Thames.
Sean Maguire had continued his form from before the international break and was provider for Jordan Hugill to slot home. Tom Barkhuizen showed equal influence on the opposite flank by cutting in from the right, his shot deflected off of Maguire who doubled North End’s lead.
In the second half Fulham came back and Oliver Norwood’s penalty halved the deficit. In the 96th minute Denis Odoi pounced to snatch a point and deny the Lilywhites at deserved three points in the capital.
Then came the visit of runaway league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers, who were pushed all the way.
Wolves showed why they were at the summit in the opening hour of the game but the typical determination of the North End squad ran them very close.
North End could count themselves a bit unlucky for the size of the deficit, with two deflections playing parts in the host’s goals. An arching left footed cross from Alan Browne would see Jordan Hugill cut the gap to two and a slice of luck would see Coady put the ball into his own net to give PNE real hope of taking a point at Molineux.
Unfortunately time ran out for the comeback to be completed but North End’s character and willingness to never give up was as evident as ever.
It was back to Deepdale to see out the month, welcoming Brentford into Lancashire. The Bees had a touch of luck on their side for the opener, Florian Jozefzoon’s shot was saved by Chris Maxwell but his parry sent the ball straight onto the head of Nico Yennaris who opened the scoring.
North End hit back through Sean Maguire who picked up the ball just inside the Brentford half, carried it across the face of the box and slotted it into the far corner. The Bees then doubled their tally however but would not be without fortune again. Romaine Sawyers’ miskick only kept the ball underneath his body but had caught the attention of the defence, allowing him time for another go, which then deflected off Hugill and past Maxwell.
Tom Barkuizen levelled things up with a spectacular volley from outside of the box, following patient build-up play.
Brentford found the winner three minutes later, a short sharp passing move down the right flank saw a low cross fizzed in and Ollie Watkins arrived to place it home.
At the end of the month the Lilywhites were sat in tenth place, but still only two points off the Play-Off places. A draw and two losses didn’t reflect fairly on the performances that were put in but the results just didn’t come for PNE against the eventual champions, Play-Off winners, and another team that pushed very close for the Play-Offs come May.