Dave Seddon’s PNE press view

Tom Clarke celebrates the winner at Burton
Tom Clarke celebrates the winner at Burton
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Won one, drew one and lost one. That was Christmas and New Year for Preston in the Championship.

Now it is the turn of the FA Cup to take centre stage at Deepdale as Arsenal come to town.

Reflecting on the festive programme, did four points gathered from three matches represent North End being behind budget or was it about what people expected?

I would reason they fell a bit short of what could reasonably be expected.

Before a ball was kicked over Christmas, who would have taken five points?

A win and two draws would not have been sniffed at by too many folk.

With the way the games panned out, they could quite easily have come out with six points from nine on offer.

North End deserved nothing from Leeds on Boxing Day and got nothing.

Against Sheffield Wednesday, few who watched the game at Deepdale would have begrudged them a win.

As it was, former PNE loan man Adam Reach denied them that with his last-gasp equaliser.

And so it was on to Burton to claim the one victory over the festivities.

That was achieved in a totally different manner to the way in which Wednesday had been run so close 48 hours earlier.

North End moved the ball well against the Owls and their cutting edge got sharper as the second half went on.

At Burton, it was all about solidity and ultimately taking the one chance – a half one at that – which came their way in the first half.

Pretty on the eye it was not but it proved effective as they returned from Staffordshire with three points.

Sometimes games have to be won ‘ugly’ and events at the Pirelli Stadium could not be described as a beauty pageant.

What surprised me was a rather subdued atmosphere at the Pirelli Stadium.

More than 1,600 North End supporters ticked off a new ground, with the majority of them getting a rare opportunity to stand on a terrace.

They made enough noise but I thought the home sections were quiet to say the least.

With terracing on three sides of the ground, I had anticipated a more raucous mood.

Perhaps it needed a better game to raise the volume.

The team selected by Simon Grayson at Burton raised a few eyebrows pre-match but it got the job done.

It was 4-3-3 going forward and very much 4-5-1 when Burton had the ball.

From an attacking point of view, it was not until the latter stages that North End really worked up a head of steam.

The gaps opened up a bit more, Jordan Hugill missing a couple of chances – the sort he was burying a few weeks ago.

Eoin Doyle’s start was his first in the Championship since September and he would have been looking to make more of an impact than he did.

I felt it was hard to judge his performance accurately when effectively he was being played out of his natural position.

At the moment, Doyle won’t win many popularity contests at Preston but it is down the middle where the Irishman is at home, not out wide.

The Burton game was to prove a last hurrah for Bailey Wright in a Preston shirt.

After 205 games for PNE, his seven-and-a-half years with the club ended with Friday’s switch to Bristol City.

There has been much debate about the whys and wherefores of Wright’s departure.

He had opted to run down his contract and keep his options open.

North End chose to take the route of getting a fee for him in the transfer window, rather than risk losing him on a Bosman in the summer.

There was no appetite for a repeat of the situations with Billy Jones and Eddie Lewis a few years back when they left on frees at the end of their contracts.

The phrase ‘that’s football’ which covers a multitude of sins, applies comfortably here.

You can argue whether or not a club in the same division and lower down the table – albeit with a good infrastructure – represents a good move.

But players come and go all the time.

In the past and no doubt in the future, PNE have benefitted and will benefit from getting players who find themselves in a similar position to the one Wright has been in.

I’m sorry to see Wright go, he is a smashing bloke away from the pitch, in addition to being a good players on it.

I had hoped he might have stayed another season before perhaps having a look at what else is out there – few players are one-club men these days.