Dave Seddon's big match verdict

On the day that Preston went green, Ben Pearson saw red for the first time in his career and changed the complexion of this Elland Road clash.

Sunday, 13th August 2017, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:18 pm
Ben Pearson is consoled by Alan Browne after being sent off at Leeds

Inevitably two bookings led to Pearson taking an early bath – after all yellow seems to be the midfielder’s favourite colour.

The two yellow cards he was shown at Leeds were the 35th and 36th of his time in senior football.

Until Saturday afternoon Pearson had been able to walk a tightrope whenever he had been cautioned, managing to avoid further trouble.

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Time ran out on that front when he halted Kalvin Phillips with a tug of his shirt after the Leeds man had won the ball off him an hour into the game.

In the first half, Pearson had been booked for what had been deemed a challenge with excessive force on Eunan O’Kane.

Some sympathy was doing the rounds on the basis that Pearson had taken the ball cleanly and once upon a time, it would have been seen as a well-executed tackle.

However, referee Scott Duncan took a dim view of the slightly raised shoe and out came yellow.

Pearson had to keep his nose clean from then on, but the moment he took Phillips to ground, we knew what was coming and so it seems did he. Up until that moment, you fancied North End to go on and win a contest which they were having the best of.

Either side of the interval, the clearer chances had come their way and the tide seemed to be in their favour.

Inevitably that changed when they went a man down, the last half-hour seeing them having to defend for their lives.

They put up a green wall to halt the flood of white shirts, Chris Maxwell – in grey and black – an impressive last line of defence when Leeds found a chink in the armour.

That said, Preston almost snatched victory when Josh Harrop’s shot hit the bar in the 95th minute.

So what is to be done about Pearson and the lad’s on-pitch discipline?

To tell him to totally calm down would take part of his game away, thus reducing his effectiveness.

Yellow cards are an occupational hazard for him but he is going to have to cut down on them.

PNE boss Alex Neil did not throw Pearson under the bus when talking post-match about the red card, nor did he soft-soap him.

Neil’s point was that you have to read the game better in Pearson’s position.

With him on a yellow card, the foul on Phillips did not have to be made.

It was in midfield and there was still the opportunity to catch him up before Phillips became a real threat.

Giving his take on the two yellow cards for Pearson, Neil said: “The first one was disappointing, the referee will say Ben flung his body at it but I think he won the ball cleanly and there was no danger to the opponent.

“The second was frustrating and disappointing for us.

“I have spoken to the boy about his discipline because he picks up too many bookings.

“It is a bit of naivety because he is a young lad and was too eager to pull someone back.

“He should have let the lad go and then try and recover.”

Neil will have learned plenty about his side from the two parts of this game.

For an hour, he saw them pass the ball well and work their way into some decent areas.

At times, the final ball or shot was wayward and that needs working on.

When down to 10 men, PNE showed a real resilience to their play.

Two solid banks of four made it hard for Leeds to find a way through.

On his own up front was Jordan Hugill, giving every last ounce of effort to the cause as Preston’s outlet.

Hugill did not give the Leeds defence a moment’s peace – it was his persistence which had created the visitors’ two best chances when they had 11 players on the pitch.

Both times he set up Alan Browne, the Irishman unable to get sufficient power on his shots to take advantage.

Those were the only blots on Browne’s copybook in an otherwise excellent display.

Two clean sheets out of two for Preston in Championship action, have been welcome and maybe a surprise.

With much of the talk over the summer being of a more fluid attacking style and the need to bring in a centre-half, a 0-0 draw and a 1-0 victory were probably not the results many supporters had on their betting slips.

The back four stayed solid in the main, Paul Huntington and Tommy Spurr policing Chris Wood – subject of a £12m bid from Burnley –very well.

Just once did Wood get sight of goal, Maxwell pulling off a fine save from the New Zealand international in a one-on-one situation.

That chance came in the 72nd minute in what was the home side’s most dangerous spell of pressure.

Not long after, Maxwell saved from Stuart Dallas and Pablo Hernandez – gloving away Dallas’ header and then diving to parry Hernandez’s follow-up drive.

Yet as the clock ticked on towards the finale, it was PNE who could twice have scored to claim victory.

Daniel Johnson got down the left-hand side of the box in the 87th minute and drove a low ball across the face of goal, one which evaded a couple of green shirts in the middle.

In the 95th minute, sub Harrop drove upfield and into the same area of the box which DJ had done.

The former Manchester United man left fly with a shot which seemed to get a slight deflection and came back off the bar.

All things considered, a very decent result for Neil’s men and one many would have taken before kick-off.

Neil seems to be settling on the personnel to fit the 4-2-3-1 system, although change will be forced on him at Derby on Tuesday night.

Pearson is banned for the Pride Park clash, while Tom Barkhuizen’s race was run by the 65th minute of this clash because of injury.

Harrop seemed a good fit in place of Barkhuizen, with him looking lively on the left-hand side of the attack for the time he was on.