Dave Seddon’s verdict: PNE’s good name dragged through mud

Eoin Doyle and Jermaine Beckford clash, with Daniel Johnson attempting to be the peacemaker

Eoin Doyle and Jermaine Beckford clash, with Daniel Johnson attempting to be the peacemaker

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There is a time and place for most things in life but there are exceptions – the most public of brawls between team-mates being one.

Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle went for each other like rutting stags, their tempers boiling over in extraordinary fashion at Hillsborough.

It was shameful conduct from both strikers, Preston’s proud name dragged through the mud, the headlines made for all the wrong reasons.

The fight went viral, with North End trending – for those not familiar with social media speak, the world and his wife knew about it.

To briefly recap events in the 90th minute, Doyle led a counter-attack as PNE chased an equaliser against 10-man Wednesday.

He chose – correctly in my eyes – to lay the ball to his right to Marnick Vermijl rather than threading a more tricky pass through to Beckford.

Vermijl drove a shot into the stand and it was at that point that things kicked off.

Words were exchanged, Doyle and Beckford eyeballed one another, pushed and shoved. Players from both teams stepped in as peacemakers, probably as bemused as the rest of us at the scenes which unfolded.

There was an inevitability about referee Scott Duncan pulling the red card from his back pocket.

Doyle was first to go, Mr Duncan sensibly allowing him to make it to the tunnel before giving Beckford his marching orders.

Sanctions will follow for the pair in due course, with a three-match suspension from the FA and a heavy club fine awaiting them.

There is an argument that the punishment should be more, some fans reasoning that it was gross misconduct on the part of Beckford and Doyle.

As unsavoury as the whole thing was, is fighting with a team-mate legally – and I stress legally – worse than exchanging blows with an opponent on the pitch?

Morally, yes it is. But when it comes to taking things a lot further – dismissal – legally it would be hard to make a case stand up.

What Beckford and Doyle did is rare in a first-team game but not unique.

Newcastle pair Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer fought in 2005.

There was the on-field row between David Batty and Graeme Le Saux during their Blackburn days.

In terms of how things impacted North End on Saturday, from a purely football point of view, I would argue the actions of Doyle and Beckford cost them a draw.

At the time, they had the numerical advantage after an earlier red card for the fiery Fernando Forestieri.

It was not in fact 11 v 10, it was 11 v 9 effectively, Owls sub Will Buckley a passenger after hurting his shoulder in the incident which led to the home side’s penalty.

With all their subs used, Buckley was there merely to fill a space, and was unable to move his right arm.

PNE had the numbers, they had the momentum, a more positive impact made by Doyle from the bench seeing him score with his first touch to halve the deficit.

They had six minutes of stoppage time to go and find an equaliser, with a man and arguably two men, extra to help that search.

The Owls were creaking, not hooting, the centre of the defence makeshift after an earlier injury.

Unfortunately, tempers got in the way – individuals put themselves before the good of the team.

Doyle and Beckford will now be out until Boxing Day, their bans taking in the games with Blackburn, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City.

For two players who have not played much football this season, what utter stupidity.

For the few minutes he was on the pitch, Doyle had looked lively and keen.

I had expected to see the arrival of Simon Makienok as the third substitute, but faith was put in Doyle as the last throw of the dice, in terms of the bench.

Beckford had arrived at the start of the second half in a double half-time change.

Maybe all this stemmed from both men wanting to make up for lost time but they got things horribly wrong.

It will be with the fans that they have the furthest way to go in terms of making up.

Team-mates generally tend to be forgiving folk, with arguments on the training pitch not unheard of.

But the 800 North End supporters sat behind the goal were not impressed with what they saw unfold.

As Simon Grayson was to point out during a difficult press conference which he handled impeccably, those fans had paid £33 for a ticket.

The first half of the game had offered no clue as to the fireworks which would come.

A poor start from PNE saw them fall behind in the ninth minute, Adam Reach’s shot bouncing off the turf and in the direction of FORESTIERI who steered a header inside the far post.

The Owls front man got his marching orders in the 65th minute for pushing his hand in Ben Pearson’s face after they had competed for a ball on the far touchline.

It was the 10 men who stretched their lead in the 79th minute, Chris Maxwell wiping out Buckley after the defence had allowed Barry Bannan’s cross to land in the box.

Steven FLETCHER sent Maxwell the wrong way from the penalty spot.

PNE got back in it eight minutes from time, a daisy-cutter from Vermijl hitting Sam Hutchinson and falling to DOYLE who lifted a shot past Keiren Westwood.

They pushed for a second but Beckford and Doyle blew that chance between them.

PLAYER RATINGS

Chris Maxwell 5

No need to commit himself in the way he did when conceding the penalty. Very little to do otherwise.

Alex Baptiste 6

Had the threat of Bannan and Reach down that side of the pitch and was steady enough.

Tom Clarke 7

Decent performance at the heart of the defence from the skipper, defended solidly and led well.

Bailey Wright 6

Caught out a couple of times early on as North End started hesitantly but grew into the game.

Greg Cunningham 7

The Irishman was his usual consistent self. Did a decent job at left-back, got forward when possible.

Ben Pearson 8

The midfielder continues to impress, played a holding role in the first half before going box-to-box after the break.

Alan Browne 5

Returned to the side after his ban and a game on the bench but did not make much impact. Subbed at half-time.

Daniel Johnson 6

Showed the odd glimpse of quality but his set-piece delivery was wayward and needs to offer more threat

Aiden McGeady 7

Only played the first half because of injury but looked good on the ball. Forced the keeper into a save before the interval.

Callum Robinson 6

Hit the post in the first half and tried his best to make things happen on the left-wing

Jordan Hugill 5

Played up the middle on his own in the first half and was often left isolated. Got more service in the second half.

Subs used

Marnick Vermijl 6

A half-time replacement for McGeady and played wide in midfield. Missed a good chance near the end.

Jermaine Beckford 3

Lost his head in the argument with Doyle at the end, letting his team-mates, manager and the fans down.

Eoin Doyle 3

His goal was quickly forgotten after he got embroiled with the handbags with Beckford.

Subs not used

Simon Makienok, Ben Pringle, Paul Huntington, Anders Lindegaard.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Westwood, Hunt, Looven (Jones 35), Lees, Reach, Wallace (Buckley 27), Lee, Hutchinson, Bannan, Forestieri, Joao. Subs (not used): Palmer, Pudil, Nuhiu, Dawson.

Referee: Scott Duncan 6

ATTENDANCE: 24,843 (801 PNE)