Dave Seddon’s press view
I am convinced I spent my Tuesday evening in deepest Hertfordshire, watching Preston and Stevenage slug out a 1-1 draw.
Not so apparently, for the Lamex Stadium read the Nou Camp!
Stevenage, Barcelona – they merge into one and it is easy to get confused.
Welcome back to the world of Graham Westley, 13 months on from his sacking by North End. His post-match comments raised both a smile and a shake of the head.
“When we got something, the goal, it was like the Nou Camp all over again when United played Bayern Munich,” enthused Westley.
“They were throwing bodies at everything in the penalty area and their goal led a charmed life.”
Crickey, was it that exciting?
Fair enough, Stevenage came on strong in the closing stages and might well have snatched victory after their stoppage-time equaliser.
But 2,448 folk in the Lamex, with 402 of that number sat in the away end, doesn’t exactly rival the electric atmosphere at the 1999 Champions League final does it?
Tom Clarke was no Mario Basler and Jimmy Smith not Teddy Sheringham, nor indeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
What was not in doubt at the Lamex – or Broadhall Way in old money – was the sense of frustration on Preston’s part at another late goal being conceded.
That is five equalisers which have hit the net from the 89th minute onwards this season.
Coventry (home and away), Crawley, Rotherham and now Stevenage have all punched their way through.
On the flip side of the coin, North End had conjured up a late leveller just the once against Tranmere at home in November – Joe Garner’s header sparking his goal rush.
It is a toss-up as to what is causing supporters more sleepless nights at the moment, the late goal habit or the prospect of a ninth go at the play-offs after eight previous unsuccessful attempts.
With regards North End being pegged back late in games, some folk have had a pop at Simon Grayson’s tactics and others have pointed fingers at the players.
Grayson argues that teams will throw caution to the wind when trailing in a game and chuck numbers forward.
Hence his players have to drop back to mark them and inevitably some yards are surrendered.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If runners aren’t tracked and the required numbers don’t drop back, the accusation will be one of being too open.
I think the answer is a more ruthless streak, make sure it is not a one-goal lead being hung on to in the first place.
North End do have goals in them and it is a case of just stepping things up a little.
If one goal has to suffice, just be more streetwise in those closing minutes, go ugly if needs be.
Grayson’s men have seen games out effectively – remember they’ve won 11 away games this season.
Sheffield United, Leyton Orient, Port Vale, Carlisle and Shrewsbury were sewn up effectively enough.
So it is within their DNA to see the job through, it is just that a spot of nervousness will be in the air until they see out a couple more games without having the fans reaching for the blood pressure pills.
Meanwhile, has anyone else noticed the new fashion craze which more and more football managers are adopting?
Forget the sheepskin coat or rain jacket, it is the humble gilet which is all the rage.
Karl Robinson started it at MK Dons, with Swansea’s Gary Monk and Tim Sherwood at Tottenham since adopting the sleeveless look in the Premier League.
When Bury and Rochdale met on Sky last Friday week, both David Flitcroft and Keith Hill had them on too. Time, I think, to call in Gok Wan.