Dave Seddon's PNE Press View
Gnashing teeth and snarls were the sounds coming out of South Wales in midweek as Preston put Cardiff City to the sword at Deepdale.
The Bluebirds suffered their first league defeat of the season and were knocked off their perch at the top of the Championship as a result of the 3-0 scoreline.
Neil Warnock was not happy – quelle surprise – and the usual ,‘We shouldn’t be losing at teams like Preston’ comments came thick and fast on social media.
Why the surprise? After all, North End always beat Cardiff at Deepdale. Always.
Not quite, but 13 wins in the last 20 home matches going back to 1978, is a more than decent record for PNE against the Welsh outfit.
The other seven ended in four draws and three Cardiff victories – the last of those in 2011 relegated Preston.
In those 20 Deepdale meetings, North End have scored 46 goals to Cardiff’s 14.
There’s been a 6-0, a 5-0 and a 4-0, while Tuesday’s 3-0 win was the fourth in this sequence.
Delve further back in the record books and Preston won this fixture 9-0 in 1966.
So maybe we should not have been surprised that Alex Neil’s men chose Cardiff’s visit to click into scoring gear this week.
Yes, the visitors arrived boasting a fantastic start of five straight wins and then a draw at Fulham – not a result to be sniffed at.
But North End were due a few goals and by the 79th minute had doubled their scoring tally for the season.
The game could not have gone much better and was to produce so many positives.
A first PNE goal for Josh Harrop, another for Sean Maguire and a first for more than a season from the boot of Alan Browne – from more than 45 yards.
John Welsh started for the first time since October last season, Calum Woods came off the bench to end an absence going back further to July 2016.
Add to all that the clean sheet and it was a damn good evening.
The result might well have surprised those outside of Preston, but that was not the case within the club.
A question posed a few times these last few weeks when Neil and his players were interviewed, was did they think a big win was just around the corner?
The answer always came back as ‘Yes’ and the talk turned to reality on the pitch.
In a similar vein, is an away win on the cards for North End soon?
Neil believes the goalless draws at Middlesbrough and Leeds last month were signs that one is coming.
Were it to come against Birmingham this weekend, it would be the perfect way to follow up the Cardiff victory.
Not since January 2 at Burton have Preston won on their travels.
That is too long, bearing in mind up until then, the away record was strong.
They had won four away games in the league before the Burton visit, and they also beat Bournemouth in the EFL Cup.
The season before, PNE won eight away matches in the Championship.
In fact their away form was stronger than that at Deepdale in 2015/16.
To say putting an away win on the board is on Neil’s ‘to-do’ list is stating the very obvious.
He didn’t sniff at the Leeds and Middlesbrough draws, indeed the Preston boss saw them as very good results.
But in order to grow this promising beginning to the season, Neil now chases that first away win.
Just returning to Cardiff’s visit, on the morning of the game the EFL released the details of the new broadcast deal with Sky.
It takes effect from the start of the 2019/20 season and the stand-out part of the deal allows clubs to stream games outside of a Saturday afternoon window, live on their website.
In effect, any midweek game or that on a Sunday can be shown.
There is also the chance for Sky to broadcast more games on its interactive and digital platforms.
The new deal sees clubs get more money from Sky but not a hugely significant amount.
Where clubs will benefit is from the extra revenue a live stream on their website would generate.
This season, clubs are able to broadcast games live on their websites to those living outside the UK.
It is done on a pay-per-view basis, with fans buying a season’s pass.
From 2019, that is being extended to these shores.
What will the effect be on attendances at games?
Instead of trailing all the way up to Preston on a wet September night, would some of the 363 Cardiff fans who made Tuesday’s trip in future be tempted to stop at home and watch on the web?
A case in point would be North End’s midweek haul to Bristol City in November.
On the doorstep, will the new deal encourage some fans to stay in their living room rather than go to a home game?
Some clubs, PNE very much one of them, already have a battle trying to lure some folk away from the bar stool watching Sky.
For some, football is now merely a television show and this new deal could see others go down the same line.