Dave Seddon’s Preston North End Press View: I’ve not seen fans in such uproar as after the derby in a VERY long time

Time looks like it will have to be the great healer when it comes to relations between Preston North End and some of the fans in the aftermath of last week’s derby defeat to Blackpool.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 4:45 pm

None of the 2,200 PNE faithful who had tickets for Bloomfield Road enjoyed being beside the seaside.

Defeat went down like a lead balloon, as much for the manner of it as the scoreline itself.

A derby being played for the first time in eight years is not the occasion for a team to be comfortably kept at arms’ length by their rivals.

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It was great to see the stands full for Liverpool’s visit to Deepdale

That I’m afraid is what happened on the Fylde coast last Saturday,it all rather flat from a Preston perspective.

I’ve not witnessed PNE supporters in uproar like they were post-Blackpool, for a very long time.

Last season’s home defeat to Blackburn provoked a strong reaction – during a time when fans were not allowed in grounds – but nothing remotely like this.

It felt as if discontent which had built up over a few weeks, maybe longer, came to the fore.

Frankie McAvoy got it in the neck, the players did, Peter Ridsdale did.

What added to the mood of unhappiness were the difficulties fans who had gone to Blackpool, faced outside the ground.

Having watched 90 minutes of football they will never get back, just returning to their cars and transport home was chaotic in the side streets around Bloomfield Road.

We’ve not heard the last of that subject by a long chalk.

Before big games, you do hear managers and coaches instruct players to play the game, not the occasion.

That is generally decent advice, the occasion being for the supporters, how things are approached on the pitch the domain of players and coaching staff.

But some kind of connect between the two is needed, a team must have a sense of the occasion without being silly about it.

What the derby loss did was hang a bit of a cloud over the build-up to the Carabao Cup clash with Liverpool on Wednesday evening.

Social media can be an echo chamber and plenty of times I read claims that the visit of Liverpool was not a big game because of what had happened at Blackpool.

However horrible Blackpool had been, I had to disagree with those saying cup clash was not a big one.

It was a different type of game, a different prize at stake, a different occasion, but still a big one in my book.

For one, North End had never been to the quarter-finals of that competition and thanks to a 2-0 defeat, still haven’t.

Also it was a big game because it was the next one and there was a chance to restore some pride.

I accept that one result and one performance wasn’t going to right the wrongs of the derby result, hence the opening line to this column that it will take plenty of time for forgiveness from some.

Against Liverpool I thought PNE were far better and benefitted from them fielding a much-changed starting XI.

It helped detach them a little from Blackpool, nine different starters taking to the pitch.

‘Why couldn’t they play like that on Saturday’, was a question commonly asked.

Some of them on the pitch on Wednesday hadn’t made it on to the grass against Blackpool, so to throw that at them was somewhat unfair.

I thought North End were good in the first half against Liverpool in that they stuck to their plan well.

Rather than go hell for leather after the ball and risk Liverpool playing around them and picking them off, they sat off and looked to go forward on the counter.

That approach was to lead to two great chances, the first one for Brad Potts and the second which fell Sean Maguire’s way.

Both should have been scored, Ryan Ledson then unlucky with the follow-up to the Maguire shot.

Ledson’s shot struck Neco Williams in the face as he covered on the line, the ball just missing his hands which had gone up to try and protect his face.

It would have been very interesting had Williams handled wouldn’t it?

Wednesday was a big game because the ground was full to the capacity allowed on the night.

Just a word on that, the 22,131 crowd wasn’t Deepdale’s total capacity.

However, I’m told that the back two rows of the Bill Shankly Kop had to be left free because Liverpool fans are known to stand throughout the game.

That’s a safety thing which I’m sure people more qualified could explain.

Camera positions at certain points around the ground took up seats and there were small areas of segregation too.

A full-house on a night like that will always mean plenty of non-regulars turning up, and there would have been a fair few Liverpool followers dotted around in the home stands.

That always leads to grumbles from fans who are there week in, week out.

But if a fan base is going to grow, once in a while you need games like Liverpool’s visit.

I’m not saying everyone who turned up in midweek is going to come back.

If some do, it may not for the next game but a bit further down the line – that can only be positive.

My wife and two children went to the game, the trio not regulars at Deepdale.

When I got home later in the evening, my son was absolutely buzzing about the game. He’s 12, had been there with his mate from school, and had loved it – result apart.

The lad is football daft, he plays it, but my job means I can’t take him.

There will have been others there like him who pick and choose matches for various reasons rather than commit to a regular visit.

They shouldn’t be discouraged or dismissed as ‘day trippers’.

The North End fans’ numbers need a boost and if a good cup game means more are persuaded to click through the turnstiles in the future, than that can only be a good thing.