The Preston North End fans' panel: Give Rudd a second chance
PNE supporters have their say on the 3-0 defeat at Birmingham City
A game changing howler from Declan Rudd saw North End crash to their first defeat in 10 games in front of 20, 523 at St Andrews.
North End had seen off some early Birmingham pressure and looked reasonably solid at half-time but in the first minute of the second half Rudd literally let the ball roll through his legs and from that moment on the game was lost.
North End conceded two further goals both of which could have been prevented but there was no doubting that the home side fully deserved their victory on a day that everybody at Deepdale will want to forget.
Clearly the injuries to key players have not helped the situation but oh how we missed Ben Pearson and Tom Clarke in a performance where few came out with any distinction. Injuries to Clarke and Pearson forced the manager to bring in Darnell Fisher and Ryan Ledson as North End started on the back foot.
There was plenty of aerial bombardment in the opening twenty minutes as the Blues had plenty of joy down the North End right hand side. Fair play to Paul Huntington and Jordan Storey who kept the home side at bay as North End gradually started to get a foothold in the game. North End`s best chance came when a ball from Gallagher found Louis Moult in the box who launched a spectacular over head kick which was saved by Camp.
The home keeper also saved a Huntington header and North End looked happy enough going in level at half time. Immediately after the break the home crowd were roaring with laughter after Declan Rudd committed one of the worst blunders you are ever likely to see from a goalkeeper as he let a very long range shot that was just trickling towards him go right through his legs.
Rudd just misjudged the bounce and didn’t bend down far enough to pick the ball up. The goal changed the game as his team mates looked towards him in utter disbelief. By the hour mark Birmingham were two up when a ball into Maghoma was just left by the North End defence as the player just chested the ball down, turned and slotted it into the net.
Birmingham made it three with quarter of an hour to go with a counter attack that saw Rudd beaten under his body from the left hand side and North End`s misery on the day was complete.
The unbeaten run had to come to an end some time but I think it was the manner of the defeat which will rankle most with the club and fans. We had almost half a team of first choice players missing and whilst it is not an excuse it is a little mitigation for the defeat.
The squad is not strong enough at the moment and that needs to be remedied in the January transfer window.
The howler by Rudd has happened and there is nothing we can do about it and from a personal point of view I hope the manager picks Rudd at Nottingham on Saturday and that the travelling fans get behind him right from the off. Yes this was a bad day at the office for North End but one which was self inflicted even though the travelling 1,258 gave them fantastic support. from start to finish.
We travelled to the West Midlands minus six first team regulars and unlike the game with Middlesbrough it showed as our nine-match unbeaten run ended in dismal fashion with a drubbing at Birmingham.
We were in the game up to half-time but both of the two sides put in what was basically a sub standard performance.
A horrendous error from Declan Rudd put the home side into the ascendancy and from that moment on there was no way back for Alex Neil’s injury hit squad and the lack of attacking impetus showed as we offered nothing up front and easily capitulated to what I thought was a very poor Birmingham side.
Before the game I thought the result could define our season and three points at St Andrew’s would have seen us in a comfortable position in the league table.However the manner of defeat in my mind made me feel that by May next year we will be looking downwards as opposed to unwards.
We have the basics of a decent side and our squad contains many young players who have the potential to go onto bigger and better things but as a unit we lacked direction attacking wise and this must be addressed in the forthcoming January window.
Last season I felt we punched above our weight given the budgets of some of the other teams in our league and this season we have had to get to grips with the harsh reality of the Championship.
Exiting St Andrews I felt sorry for the hardened travelling support who had parted with the hard earned cash only to be disappointed but tomorrow is a another day and next weekend’s game at Nottingham Forest could be a completely different matter as our season seems to have more twists and turns than the current Brexit situation.