North End Fans' Panel verdicts
JOHN ROPERNot so much a game of two halves more a game of two parts at Elland Road on Saturday, but ultimately a very well-won point for North End that could so easily have been three right at the end.
The big talking point in the game was the sending off of Ben Pearson for two yellow cards and it is clear to all at Deepdale that Ben really must control his game more, otherwise he becomes a liability instead of an integral part of the team.
North End had to battle for the last half an hour with 10 men plus five minutes added on so it was an excellent effort to hold out for the point.
To be fair to Alex Neil’s side I thought we shaded the first hour of the game and frustrated the home side in front of a crowd of 32,880 of which 697 had paid the extortionate prices and made the journey over the hills into West Yorkshire.
North End donned their Green third kit for the first time and I must admit it did look better than I thought it would.
The game was quite patchy in the opening encounters but North End certainly looked the more comfortable against a Leeds side looking slightly edgy in front of the big home crowd. North End should have taken the lead when Jordan Hugill did some great work down the left and pulled the ball back to Alan Browne, who should really have scored but had his shot blocked by a Leeds defender.
Pearson was booked for having his feet off the ground even though he won the ball. I know the booking is being classed as questionable in some quarters but for me it was, without doubt, a yellow card.
North End started the second period on the front foot after a very solid and resilient first-half display. Leeds were trying to make inroads but the back four with Pearson in front of them were dealing with everything the home side threw at them.
Once again, Browne had a great chance to score when he was put in by Hugill but the chance went begging and things were going to get tougher for North End.
Pearson then committed a professional foul to stop a Leeds player advancing and the referee, quite rightly, produced a second yellow and he was on his way.
Right at the end Harrop hit the bar for North End with what would have been the sweetest of finishes but the ball came back into play and the chance had gone.
I don’t think you could say that PNE would have definitely won the game had we had 11 men for the 90 minutes but the sending off certainly restricted our attacking options as it so obviously would. All the boys in green deserved a mention.
The performance at Leeds gave plenty of encouragement to the faithful who paid the vastly inflated price to see the action at Elland Road.
Playing in a new green strip it looked like we had eleven goalkeepers on the pitch and felt like I was watching Plymouth Argyle and not my beloved Preston North End.
We were the best side in the first half with the tenacious Ben Pearson seemingly putting in another man of the match performance.
However the game turned early in the second half following his dismissal for another over-enthusiastic tackle and we were forced to fight a rearguard action for the remainder of the game.
Roared on by a raucos crowd of over 30,000, the home side tried to turn the screw but when they did break through the well-drilled defence, my man of the match Chris Maxwell was on hand to save the day.
The home fans proclaimed they were the champions of Europe but this was far from the truth and if we had not lost Pearson I think we could have possibly won this game.
The fans are seemingly warming to Alex Neil and chanted “Alex Neil’s super white army” as he disappeared down the tunnel at the end of the game.