Andrew Hughes said it was a “special feeling” returning from injury and celebrating a late Ched Evans winner in the 1-0 victory away to Stoke City.
In the first game of 2023, Preston North End took three points home from the bet365 Stadium, thanks to Evans’ 93rd-minute header.
That goal came right in front of the 1,600 traveling fans, and it was a sight to behold as the players celebrated with the club’s supporters.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, Hughesy said: “There’s no better feeling. Ched’s been on flames lately so [it is no] shock he was the man to step up to the plate.
“To score that goal at that time was a special feeling.
“From my point of view, I thought a draw would have been a good point coming away.
“But to get the three points is special right in front of the traveling fans as well, so we’re buzzing with that.”
Heading to Stoke, North End were looking to put an end to their run of three successive losses.
While the message from the manager during that time has been to not get too low, defeats inevitably leave a bitter taste, so Hughesy was happy to get back to winning ways.
“It feels good and it just boosts the morale again,” he said.
“If we came away from here with nothing today it’s heads buried, but now all of a sudden we’ve got a spring in our step again and we look forward to the next game.
“Everyone’s over the moon with that.”
Hughes lined up on the left of a back three in the victory at Stoke, after not featuring since the home game against Millwall in mid-November due to injury.
He has been in training for a week or so, though, but his return has been managed carefully, having also been sidelined earlier in the campaign.
“I took my time coming back for this one,” he admitted.
“Me and the gaffer spoke and he kind of left me out of the last couple of games, but I felt good coming into this game so it was green-light time.
“I felt good. With 20 [minutes] to go I was a bit tired and cramping up a bit, but buzzing to be back out there.”