Preston North End fans’ panel: Crucial games coming up now against Hull City & WBA says John Smith
A very vocal travelling army arrived at Pride Park in buoyant mood hopefully of improving their poor track record at this venue and holding their lofty perch in the automatic promotion places.
We had only ever won one league game here on our first ever visit to this ground in season 2002-3. But although Derby had finished last season in a play-off place hopes were still high of achieving at least a draw prior to kick-off. To me the game illustrated the competitive nature of the unforgiving nature of the Championship with Derby one of the sides I’d expect to make a surge for a play-off berth proving to be a tough task. In the first half we offered very little going forward and went into the interval a goal down after conceding another goal from a set-piece corner ,something which has developed as a weakness over the past couple of seasons . However in the main I thought that we had looked reasonably tight at the back, despite the home side having the majority of the possession. As I have said before in this column if you don’t score in a game the best you can hope for as a fan is a 0-0 draw and although Alex Neil changed his formation at half-time in a bid to make a breakthrough a goal never really looked on the cards, apart from a disallowed effort shortly after the hour. We had most of the second-half play showing some slick passing and displaying some quality, but unfortunately there was no end product as the home side defended doggedly and in the end it was the Rams and not the lambs of Preston who gained the three points. Performance-wise we worked hard but we were always chasing the game after going a goal down and we must now hope we can get something out of our next two difficult assignments at Hull and home to one of the leagues big hitters WBA in order to preserve what I think has been an outstanding season so far.