Ryan Lowe could not praise his players enough after their dominant display against Huddersfield Town secured a 4-1 win and progress into the Carabao Cup second round.
The manager admitted his players had done everything that had been asked of them as they stormed into a 3-0 half-time lead, with Troy Parrott’s first goal for the club quickly followed by an Ali McCann brace, before Brad Potts extended the lead soon after the break.
While Jordan Rhodes netted a consolation for the hosts to deny Freddie Woodman a third clean sheet in a row, there was no containing the manager’s satisfaction at the final whistle.
He told iFollow PNE: “I’m massively pleased. The lads who have come in and the lads who have probably missed out on the start of the season and not playing, sometimes it can kick you in the teeth, can’t it? We said to them to go out there and be professional.
“I thought they were all fantastic today, every single one of them – top drawer. And then to finish the game with two young kids on the pitch was more pleasing.
“I thought the performance overall was fantastic. The passing through the lines, our shape was fantastic, I thought everything we asked for they’ve done, in the first half especially. The second half, the game is more or less done. To keep going and find the back of the net again was very pleasing.
“Overall, pleased with everything about it, the game plan they stuck to and as I said to the lads, every time they follow the game plan, nine times out of ten we win games of football.”
Alvaro Fernandez made a memorable first start for the club by registering assist for both of Ali McCann’s efforts, before being substituted at the break as a precaution.
The gaffer provided an update on the teenage defender while taking stock of his display.
He continued: “We knew him and Robbie down that left-hand side are going to challenge each other right the way through the season, they give you two different things, but we always felt this was going to be Alvaro’s night tonight to unleash him.
“He was fantastic, his balls into the box. I think at one point he looked a little bit shattered because he hasn’t played much game time. He’s fine, he rolled his ankle a little bit, it’s more precaution, we waited till half-time and assessed him, he’ll be absolutely fine.
“He might be a little bit stiff tomorrow but he’ll be okay Thursday Friday. Really pleased with his performance, along with everyone else’s to be honest with you, I thought they were fantastic.”
Ben Woodburn was also making his first start for the club and, like Brad Potts earlier in the contest, was denied a goal by the woodwork as the Lilywhites put on an impressive attacking display that could have yielded even more goals.
“That’s the type of football we want to play. Pottsy’s, wow! That volley, I thought it was in. It hit the stanchion, come out, and then Ben Woodburn – we could have had six goals there tonight, easily.
“I’m pleased with the patterns of play, how they work, how we want them to work, where we want them to get down the sides of, and put balls in the box. We’ve got to be on the end of them to score them and we certainly did tonight.”
With Woodburn and Fernandez among the six changes from the weekend’s stalemate against Hull City, the boss admitted he had a selection headache in store ahead of Saturday’s trip to Luton Town, but he was all the more pleased for it, particularly in front of a magnificent travelling contingent of 1,100 PNE supporters.
“They were loud and proud as well, brilliant. We keep saying we’ve got to entertain them and I think they’ll go home very entertained tonight. Really pleased with them, the support’s immense, I’ve said that all along, I can’t thank them enough.
“There’s going to be more of them and there are going to be long journeys and more journeys but if we keep performing the way we can we know we’ll send them home happy.”
Watch more from Ryan on iFollow PNE.