PNE fans' panel
Four North End supporters have their say on the 2-2 derby draw against Blackburn at Ewwod Park
A last gasp equaliser by Aiden McGeady may well go down as the most celebrated goal of the season as 6,005 North End fans went wild with delight as the Irishman leveled the game in the 93rd minute. North End had been trailing 2-1 to Rovers after scoring first through Tom Barkhuizen but Blackburn had levelled matters before the break and taken the lead early into the secon half. Their exertions in midweek started to tell on the home side and the introduction of Gallagher for North End proved decisive as he started to dictate the play in the centre of the Park and was then involved in the build up to McGeady’s goal right at the end. Rovers will count themselves unlucky not to have taken all three points and they played some good football for a side in the bottom three but North End always looked likely toget one once we got on the front foot and on chances and play the draw certainly looked the right result to my eyes.A result that probably felt like a win for North End and a defeat for Blackburn but the crowd of 18,435 had their monies worth on a grey miserable day in East Lancashire. Im not sure the 1pm kick off is always conducive to having the best atmosphere for these occasions but on the away end, at least, the full joys of a local derby away day and a late equalising goal were ther for all to see. North End were not at their best in this game by a long way and had to battle it out at times against a Blackburn side, that on the evidence of this showing, may well escape the relegation trap door. The gap to the play offs was narrowed to five points although we dropped to ninth with Norwich winning, and that makes the two home games after the international break, against Nottingham Forest and Bristol City absolutely crucial. This season is far from over and on the evidence of the league table I would suggest it was more a point won at Ewood on Saturday than two points lost.
Throughout this game my mind had the feeling that I was participating in a Bushtucker Trial. At the beggining I possessed the strength and confidence that my mission would be fulfilled and I would return home to camp with the required stars or in this case the points to keep the play-off dream alive.It was all looking like the trial would be succesful when Tom Barkhuizen put us ahead from close range to send a passionate 6,000 travelling army into delirium. We had dominated the first 20 minutes but soon the trial was to become a lot tougher and as the home side came into the game I was soon wincing and feeling like I had just tasted the delicacy of a witchetty grub.The bad taste remained in my mouth and got worse as time wore on particularly after Rovers equalised at a crucial time just before the break.In the second half the trial tested my mental well being even further when we fell behind and I felt that it was going to be a long night at the camp fire with only rice and beans to eat or in this case m long weeks in the pubs or workplace where local bragging rights would be temporarily lost until the next trial. We were losing the battle in midfield and too many passes were going astray.As the game wore on I felt like I was in a dark tunnel filled with cockroaches,crickets and spiders crawling all over me and there would be no way out.As the match went into injury time Paul Gallagher, who had a tremendous impact on the game’s outcome after being brought on, crossed for Paul Huntington to head home and I exhaled with relief and drew breath.However with the goal being ruled out for offside the relief was only temporary and soon I was back in the dark tunnel.In the final minute of injury time man of the moment Aiden McGeady ended my ordeal after Gallagher had carved open the home defence and brilliantly threaded the ball through for Tom Clarke to cut the ball back for him to gleefully drill the ball home.As i made my way over the bridge back to base at Croc Creek or in this case to cross the £12 million “Bridge to Nowhere” in Blackburn I knew that even though I was not going to share my well earned hearty meal on this Saturday evening with Carol Voderman I was extremely happy and it would taste very satisfying.
Derby day in the pouring rain again for North End at Ewood Park as three wins in a row over Blackburn was what we had in sight. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be the performance or result we were initially hoping for, but a glance at Rovers’ recent form and where we were at with a matter of seconds to play, we’ll take the point. It was a sluggish, and rather flat performance from Preston, never really hit top gear as we did against Reading last week. That didn’t stop us going ahead though. It was that man again Barkhuizen who got on the end of Hugill’s pass and toe poked the ball home just 13 minutes in. We dominated the early stages, looked a lot better than Blackburn did but as you can imagine, they battled, started to get things going and got back on to it. A matter of minutes before half-time the home side equalised through Elliot Bennett who fired home from 25 yards, and that was probably a deserved equaliser. The second half was one to forget on a whole for North End, we went behind10 minutes in to it when Conway found room in the area and simply slotted past Maxwell, far too easy of a goal to be conceding. We tried to rally and tried to get back in to it but things just were not working. That was until the dying seconds of the game when some brilliant football on the edge of the Blackburn box landed the ball at McGeady’s feet and he slotted it home in front of the 6,000 travelling fans, who celebrated deliriously.
An eventful game of shifting sands ended in a last gasp equaliser for North End as they refused to give up in this entertaining derby. Preston started the match superbly, dominating the opening 20 minutes or so with both possession and attacking play to such an extent that the early goal by that man Tom Barkhuizen again seemed inevitable. In my view, a second goal in this period would have left Blackburn too shell-shocked, as they made mistakes with passes going astray. However, the home side’s position in the relegation zone has nothing to do with their forward play this season, with this becoming more apparent as the half wore on. From a mix of loans and savvy signings, they have managed to acquire a number of young, fast and skilful forwards with Premier League experience that may well be their saving grace come May. The warning came in the form of a class Lucas Joao strike that happened to hit the post and it ended the first half with a 20 yarder into Chris Maxwell’s bottom right corner from an unmarked Elliott Bennett shot. The start of the second period saw the roles of the first reversed, as Rovers ran the Lilywhites defence ragged. It really came as no surprise when another surge of skilful play led to Blackburn taking the lead with a Craig Conway goal. However, the 6, 000 North Enders in the Darwen End never lost heart as they continued to sing and chant in the cold and damp East Lancashire air. And this was not blind hope … we know this Preston team is now resilient and not far off being a force in the division. Sometimes we go a bit ugly, as we had to here, but there is heart and passion in the squad that led to the wonderful Aiden McGeady equaliser in the dying seconds of the game. It made the early afternoon finish feel more like a victory than a draw. Still only an outside chance of the play-offs, but with other results meaning we actually edged a point closer, this keeps the season going as we come to the crunch end of the fixtures list.