Dave Seddon’s PNE Press View

Daniel Johnson shields the ball from Newcastle's Mohamed Diame

Daniel Johnson shields the ball from Newcastle's Mohamed Diame

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You could say that Preston were beaten at their own game by Newcastle last week.

It is tempting to throw referee Chris Kavanagh into the argument too but plenty of ground has been covered already with regards to his decision-making.

Last Saturday’s meeting with the Magpies at Deepdale saw PNE have more possession than their visitors, a statistic you don’t see too often.

An example that possession isn’t always king – a statement backed up by a couple of games in Europe this week.

Manchester City conceded the greater share of possession to Barcelona in their Champions League game but still ran out 3-1 winners.

It was a similar tale on Thursday night in Turkey as Manchester United were beaten by Fenerbahce.

Jose Mourinho’s men bossed possession 70%-30% yet flew home empty-handed.

Ahead of the double-header with Newcastle, North End had put together a seven-game unbeaten run, in all those matches having less of the ball than their opponents.

Typical, they finally come out top in the possession stakes and end up on the losing side.

At Bournemouth in the League Cup, they had 44% possession over the 120 minutes and won 3-2.

PNE edged past Wigan 1-0 three nights later, the visitors having had the ball for 65% of the contest.

The 2-2 draw at Birmingham saw the Blues have a 57% share of possession.

At the start of last month, North End put Aston Villa to the sword, beating them 2-0.

Villa had only two shots on goal all afternoon, including a saved penalty.

Simon Grayson’s men got their win – and were fully deserving of it – with 39% possession.

The long trip to Brighton at the Amex Stadium saw the home side seemingly control the game, spending 64% of the time on the ball, yet the Lilywhites’ 36% share got them a 2-2 draw.

They beat Huddersfield 3-1 with 40% possession and then went to Norwich, the Canaries unable to take advantage of a 58% share – PNE winning 1-0.

Now, if ever a game went with the flow of the ball, it was the 6-0 hammering by Newcastle at St James’ Park.

The Toon controlled possession 72%-28% and I’m actually surprised their share was not even greater, such was the one-sided nature of the fourth-round tie.

When the sides met again in the Championship four days later, North End had 55% of the ball and Newcastle 45%.

Rafa Benitez’s men played on the counter-attack in a way Preston often do, both their goals coming that way.

There are plenty of games where better possession equals victories but it no longer seems the be-all and end-all.

Every manager wants to see their side pass the ball well but the focus is on where their time on the ball is.

Any team can knock it along the back line, 20 yards from their own box where no damage is going to be caused.

Remember Swindon in the play-off final at Wembley 17 months ago?

They had 68% possession, with North End happy to let them have the ball in their own half – tackles were snapped into once the Robins ventured across the halfway line.

Playing on the break, having the discipline to stay in shape while the opposition have the ball, is becoming key.

It is not a perfect science but can be effective.

The other night, City’s share of possession against Barca was just 35%.

At times in the first half, Pep Guardiola’s men chased shadows as the Catalans hogged the ball.

Some over-playing at the back by Barcelona led to City’s equaliser and from there they grew in confidence, pressing to win back the ball in areas where they could go on to hurt their visitors.

How possession pans out when Preston visit Rotherham, will be interesting.

Will it be a case of North End taking the game to the Millers, bearing in mind the lowly position of their hosts at the New York Stadium?

They head there without three midfield ‘ratters’ in Ben Pearson, Alan Browne and John Welsh.

Suspensions and injury have combined to keep that trio at home.

Six weeks ago, Pearson could not even make the bench, now he is an integral part of the team – his ban for five yellow cards regarded as a big blow.

It will be interesting to see how Grayson shapes the side and midfield in a bid to make sure ground is not lost in the middle of the pitch.

Fingers crossed, three points can come back with Preston over the Pennines.