Ben Pearson on why he’s no longer Preston North End’s bad boy

It is not very often that Ben Pearson can take the moral high ground but he has been overshadowed in the Preston North End disciplinary stakes by Darnell Fisher this season.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Ben Pearson challenges with Luton midfielder George Moncur at Deepdale, together with Patrick Bauer

Not that the midfielder is claiming to be a Mother Teresa-type figure, far from it, but it is team-mate Fisher who has been PNE’s bad boy of late.

Fisher will sit out the visit to Cardiff City on Saturday lunchtime and the Boxing Day clash with Leeds United because of a two-match suspension.

The ban is for reaching 10 yellow cards which, at the halfway point of the season, has taken some doing.

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Pearson is no angel but is four bookings behind Fisher, having tweaked his approach this season.

He has cut down on the lip given to officials and is not tending to dive into tackles as often as he did.

There have been times when he has deviated from that approach, hence the six cautions to his name.

But Pearson is being better behaved than in previous years at PNE.

“I’ve been having a right go at Darnell,” said Pearson – slightly tongue-in-cheek you suspect.

“I don’t know how he has got to 10 bookings already. I’m on six but how on earth is he on 10?

“I’ll be pushing for fines after all the money I had taken off me last year!

“Joking aside, it is unfortunate for Darnell and for us that he will miss the next two games.

“He’s a good player and a big part of what we do.

“Darnell needs to stay on the right side of refs – it’s funny me saying that, but he will be a big miss.”

Pearson got three red cards and 14 yellows last season, so he knew he had to calm down this time.

There have been times when he has sailed close to the wind but in general he has been better behaved. Said Pearson: “I have probably shut my mouth a bit more this year, maybe not gone in for as many tackles as I usually do.

“I think that has slightly hindered my game but I had to do it.

“The more time I spend on the pitch is beneficial to me and hopefully to the team. We are third in the table at the moment and I have been available a lot more.”

It is an early start in South Wales for North End when they face Cardiff in front of the Sky cameras.

Kick-off is 12.30pm which sometimes does not lend itself to fast and frenzied football.

Pearson is certainly more of a traditionalist when it comes to start times.

“I’m not a big fan of the early kick-offs,” said the 24-year-old.

“Mind you, we played Charlton at a similar time last month and won.

“Personally speaking, I don’t think early kick-offs are great for the fans or for players.

“From our point of view you are trying to get all sorts of food down at 9am, which isn’t the best.

“The plus side is that we will all get home that few hours earlier.

“When we play Leeds on Boxing Day, it’s a 5.15pm start. You’ve got to adapt to the different kick-offs.

“It will be a tough game at Cardiff, they have picked up since changing manager.

“They are a big, strong side and set-pieces could be a key part of the game.

“If we compete as well as they do, we will have a chance of getting something.”

North End’s home and away from has contrasted greatly this season.

They can boast nine wins, two draws and just the one defeat at Deepdale but on the road it has been a different story.

The Lilywhites have won two, drawn two and lost six on their travels.

In front of the home faithful North End have scored 29 goals, the highest in the Championship. But away they have managed just six – the lowest in the division.

Pearson said: “It’s a strange one, we can’t quite put our finger on it.

“In previous seasons we have been really good away and not quite as good at home.

“I’m not entirely sure why our form away has been the way it is – if we knew we could put it right very quickly.

“To be promoted from this league your home form has to be very good and then it’s about picking up points away from home when you can.

“That is the model to go off but obviously we would like to have more points than we have got away. If we can keep the home form going and start doing better away, we should be right up there.

“At the moment we are third in the league and are pleased with that.

“To lose four in a row was disappointing for the players and for the fans.

“Maybe some of them were panicking a bit and thinking the bubble had burst. But we’ve had the wins over Fulham and Luton to get us going again.

“When we are on our game, there aren’t many teams in the league who can beat us.

“We are up there in the table on merit and our aim is to stay up there. We’ve got a run of games coming up and hopefully we will come out in good shape.”