Dave Seddon's verdict: Preston North End 0 Blackburn 3 - Lilywhites on the wrong end of a demolition derby
Let’s cut to the chase. This was awful, the low point of the last few seasons.
A derby defeat is always a difficult one to swallow but this particularly stuck in the throat as Preston North End lost to Blackburn for the first time in five years.
Rovers won it at a canter and the statistics back that statement up.
On their own pitch, North End had only a 25% share of the ball, failed to have a shot on target and didn’t even force a single corner.
Defeat was accepted at 2-0, before former PNE scholar Tyrhys Dolan popped up to score the visitors’ third. Damage limitation rather than chasing a way back into the game seemed to be the instruction from Alex Neil.
Look beyond the fact that the Lilywhites conceded all three goals with 10 men on the pitch.
They lost Joe Rafferty to a red card in conceding the penalty from which Rovers opened the scoring.
In the 44 minutes which came before that, the visitors had been on top. It just seemed a matter of time before they turned their better play into a goal.
Not since November 2015 had Rovers got the better of PNE.
In the seven matches which followed, North End had won five and the spoils been shared twice.
Had they lost this one showing some real spirit and gone down fighting, it might have been a touch easier to accept. But that didn’t happen.
Instead it was a painful watch on iFollow for the PNE faithful, a good number of who now have Neil’s job in their sights.
At the core of their displeasure is Preston’s record at Deepdale. It is one win and six defeats on home turf in the league this season.
There was only one home win in the restart games at the tail end of the last campaign.
Home is where the heart is, even during this pandemic when the turnstiles are locked and games are viewed via TV screens, laptops and phones.
This was the tamest performance of Neil’s 40 months in charge, certainly at Deepdale.
From first whistle to last Rovers were better with the ball, had more energy, indeed more desire about them.
They played out from the back, ran the midfield and their front three worked cleverly to pose a threat.
Parts of the second half resembled an attack versus defence training game, the visitors keeping hold of the ball with a degree of ease.
North End’s away form has bailed them out this season, it’s been very good and that should not be forgotten.
Perhaps that makes the results at home so much more frustrating and puzzling to work out.
They will have to lean on their away form heavily in the next few days in order to recover from this defeat.
Watford and Bournemouth are the opposition coming up, two sides intent on making a quick return to the Premier League.
What went wrong then against Blackburn? How long have you got?
No one in white really covered themselves in glory, it being those in red shirts who caught the eye.
That it took Blackburn to the end of the first half to go in front was surprising bearing in mind how much of the ball they had.
Their opener came on the break after Daniel Johnson had seen a shot blocked, a chance he should have done better with.
The ball was worked cleared and across the pitch to Sam Gallagher who set off into the PNE half with Rafferty in pursuit.
Rafferty’s foul should have come 40 yards out, not two yards inside the box. He was deemed the last man and out came the red card from referee Tony Harrington.
Adam Armstrong tucked the penalty away and the night just got tougher for North End.
For the second in the 53rd minute, Joe Rothwell drove from the centre circle unopposed to within a few yards of the PNE box. His pass played in Ben Brereton behind the defence who finished with a shot on the half-turn.
Dolan had been on the pitch five minutes when he lifted Brereton’s rolled pass across the six-yard box into the roof of the net, celebrating his return to Deepdale with a somersault.
It was a nice moment for the teenager but the final nail in a miserable night for North End.
They now need some salvation on the road to recover from this demolition derby.
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