The PNE fans' panel
Fans have their say on draw against Nottingham Forest
A disappointing start to the four game festive period with a 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest.
North End had the majority of the play but found themselves behind to a goal o the counter from Brereton.
Nevertheless North End got the equaliser when a ball came loose form a corner and Huntington shot into the right hand corner to give North End a point.
It wasn't a game that will live long in the memory but I thought we did enough to win but suffered from a lack of chances and being hit on the counter attack. There were several noatble displays from North End on the day and I thought the O`Connor and Pearson were the pick with the latter taking the man of the match award for a very combative display in the centre of the Park.
North End started the game much the brighter reverting to the 4-2-3-1 generally favoured by Alex Neil with Robinson and Barkhuizen causing the visitors problems down both flanks early in the game.
Chances were few and far between but Browne had an effort early on and Hugill also troubled Smith in the Reds goal but without causing him too many alarms.
The best chance of the first half fell to Paul Huntington who had a free header from a set piece but only watched in amazement as the header went wide when most people in the ground thought it was going into the net.
Forest had a couple of raids on the North End goal but Maxwell was up to everything Forest threw at him as North End trooped off at the break wondering how they were not in the lead.
North End came out in the second half and carried on much as they had done in the first, having the majority of play but making enough clear cut chances to make the breakthrough in the game.
Just before the hour mark, and against the run of the play, Forest took the lead with a sweeping counter attacking goal that went right through the middle of North End after we had been in the ascendancy.
North End countered quickly but could not make any of the many set pieces count until fifteen minutes from the end when Huntington picked the loose ball up from a corner a scored.
It was all North End in the last fifteen minutes but somehow the winner would not come and North End had to settle for a point on a day when they really should have had three.
The result wasn`t a disaster in terms of league position but I thought the game acted as a reminder that there are no easy games in the Championship and if a couple of your players are having off days then it can make all the difference to the outcome of the match.
Alex Neil spoke after the game about his dismay at some sections of the crowd cheering when Alan Browne was substituted. Browny didnt have his best game on Saturday but has made some key contributions already this season in getting us to where we are in the league.
People pay their money and make their choice but booing during a game has never won anybody any points in my opinion and with what we have achieved with an horrendous injury list I feel Neil has every right to voice his opinion.
In the end a disappointing game as a more dominant Preston side failed to convert numerous waves of attacking play down the wings into the goals ‘for’ column.
Instead the hosts had to fight back from going a goal down in the second half as Forest took advantage of the swift counter play they had threatened with on and off throughout the afternoon.
There was much debate around me as to whether the lack of a cutting edge was a result of poor quality crosses and final ball into the box or as a consequence of forwards not getting into good positions ahead of defenders. It’s probably safe to say that it was a mix of the two and that this only added to the sense of frustration felt by all.
What a shame after such a promising start to the match, as Tom Barkhuizen in particular seemed to be able to run through the left-hand side of the Forest defence as if Christmas harvesting had left not a tree in sight!
However, despite a shaky looking back line, the visitors kept reminding Preston that they were dangerous on the counter attack, with fast flowing moves that warned of things to come. The pattern continued after the break up to the point that it felt like North End would never score in a month of Sundays.
Then, within 15 minutes of the second period Nottingham broke forward from under the cosh with a fine pass put through to Ben Brereton all on his own with only Chris Maxwell to beat.
He took his time before calmly slotting home to Maxwell’s left. However, it has to be said that from our vantage point, in line with the player, he was more than a tad offside, but as the linesman failed to keep up with play the flag stayed down and the goal counted.
As you would expect, Preston continued to press ever more intently and finally got some reward with a Paul Huntingdon equaliser 15 minutes from time that he cleared enjoyed. So, a short break now before the Boxing day trip across the Pennines to Barnsley. As is the way with football, if we manage to secure a win there then this result will soon be forgotten.
Free scoring Nottingham Forest arrived at Deepdale having played almost half of the football season without recording a single draw.
The outcome of the game as if by magic was a score draw.If we would have lost the match it would have been robbery of Dick Turpin proportions but we were spared defeat with a piece of magic from man of the match Paul Huntington when he passed the ball into the net to cancel out the opener from Forest
.It was the first goal the Cumbrian Cannavaro had registered on the scoresheet since the win over Brighton in January and one which further enhanced his popularity with his adoring fans on the Town End and gave them an oppurtunity to perform a festive rendition of the Pilot song "ho ho ho hes magic you know".
Huntington must be one of the leading candidates for player of the season at the half way stage although he will be strongly pressed by Ben Pearson another consistent performer and Jordan Hugill if we can manage to fend off any multi million pound bids in the forthcoming transfer window.
Hugill;s services will be vital in any play off push in the New Year as at the moment we are finding goals hard to come by and this was evident on Saturday as we failed to convert our first half pressure into goal scoring opportunities before falling behind to a breakaway goal on the counter attack.
To our credit we fought back well after another inspired double substitution by Alex Neil but a draw was probably a fair result as Forest had played an open game and not parked the bus following their opener.
Whilst it could be deemed dissappointing that we could not pick up all three points in the first game in a packed festive period which sees us take in four games in a hectic nine days.
I see this as a point gained and if we can pick up a win at Barnsley on Boxing Day we will still be handily placed and have reasons to go into the New Year in an optimistic frame of mind .