PNE Fans’ Panel: John Roper’s verdict

Ben Pearson deserves special mention according to fans' panel member John Roper

Ben Pearson deserves special mention according to fans' panel member John Roper

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After a pretty low ebb for North End fans at Brentford last Saturday, pride was restored and wounds healed as North End knocked Premier League Bournemouth out of the EFL Cup, on a wonderful evening on the south coast.

North End secured their place in the last 16 of the competition with a warrior-like performance in front of 293 ecstatic travelling supporters who gave the team fantastic backing on the evening.

The headline act was, of course, Simon Makienok with his hat-trick but I want to make special mention of the jobs that Ben Davies and Ben Pearson did for the team.

Out of the limelight for a while, they both came in and did sterling work.

In fact every man in a yellow shirt fought every battle to the bitter end of the 120 minutes and gave us a hugely deserved victory after having to come from behind.

The game started with North End looking ultra defensive with a 5-4-1 line up but it actually didn’t pan out that way, with Ben Pringle and, for the most part, Daniel Johnson getting forward to help the big man up front.

With only 10 minutes gone we were in the lead as a shot from Pringle came back to Makienok and the Great Dane made no mistake with a shot into the net.

Bournemouth looked slightly shell-shocked but North End were calm on the ball and terrier-like without it, giving the home side plenty to think about in a busy, but not massively productive, first period.

Nevertheless we were good value for the lead with a makeshift side that just seemed to click on the night.

The Cherries came out fired up for the second half and they were level with less than 10 minutes gone.

Pringle raised his arm in a wall defending a free-kick and I have to say it looked like a penalty from where I was sat.

The home side were getting on top and North End defended for quite a sustained period.

In fact, when Gosling made it 2-1 to Bournemouth with 15 minutes to go it looked like our chance had gone but Makienok and Co certainly had other ideas.

Chris Humphrey floated a perfect ball in from the right with five minutes to go and Makienok rose to head superbly past Frederici in the home goal and to take the game into extra time.

Bournemouth were running out of steam as the game opened up and although it was still level at half-time in extra time it was Championship Preston who were looking the most likely to win the tie.

Sure enough with just eight minutes left, Makienok raced forward and stuck out those long legs of his to flick the ball over the keeper into the net and put North End into the last 16 of the EFL Cup.

The fans went berserk and so did the players as we comfortably held on to secure a giantkilling of sorts a very long way from Deepdale.

North End’s night at last then, after a horror show at the weekend.

But the truly remarkable thing about the performance was the hunger and desire of the players who came in.

This was a free hit for North End and if we had lost 2-1 then nobody would have got too down about it.

However we marched proudly on to the pitch and clearly demonstrated that rumours of our demise have been grossly exaggerated.

Let’s just hope the boys that force their way into the team on Friday evening have enough fuel in the legs to keep them going after this exhausting, but ultimately successful, performance on the Dorset coast.