Downward spiral cannot be allowed to continue says Preston North End Fans’ Panel’s John Roper
It was very much a case of rinse and repeat for North End at Ewood Park on Saturday as they suffered their second derby day defeat with a 1-0 reverse to Blackburn Rovers.
The conditions certainly were not conducive to good flowing football but after being the better team in the first half North End produced one of their, now famous, tactical meltdowns in a second half won by Rovers with the one bit of quality in the game.
We had the better chances in the first period with the wind and rained-soaked pitch making defenders nervous and sending attackers skidding on their backsides.
However, we couldn’t make our ascendancy count in a game where the first goal scored was going to be all important.
The goal came eight minutes into the second half when Ben Brereton Diaz lost Liam Lindsay to head the ball past Daniel Iversen into the far corner and allowed the home side to collect all three points.
North End started with four changes from the draw with Fulham last week with Van Den Berg, Barkhuizen, Hughes and Maguire being replaced by Olosunde, Storey, Cunningham and Evans.
North End knew they had to start the game well and to be fair we were the better side albeit without making that early breakthrough that would have meant a completely different game.
The home side hardly troubled Iversen but you just felt our chance had gone and it would be a different Blackburn in the second half.
Sure enough it looked a different home side that appeared for the second half and twice within the first minute they were in the North End penalty area with a threat.
We then looked like we had settled down but with almost 53 minutes on the clock a pinpoint cross from the left by Khadra was met by Diaz, who made no mistake with a glancing header into the far corner.
The visiting fans were getting frustrated as our inability to shoot or make a shooting chance was fairly obvious. With just seven minutes to go Josh Earl crossed from the right and the ball clearly hit Nyambe’s outstretched arm. It was a stonewall penalty but referee Gavin Ward waived play on to the amazement of everybody close to the incident.
The one thing that stuck out more than anything in this performance was PNE’s tactical inability to break Rovers down. Long throws by a centre-forward hardly reaching halfway into the penalty area.
Couple this to virtually no impact from Johnson or Sinclair when they were introduced and it all adds up to another miserable away day.
It wasn’t a brilliant game in truth and a game we should have taken something from but Frankie’s mysterious tactics and late ineffective subs made this particular derby day defeat all the more unpalatable.
People I know who have watched the club for many years say that it doesn’t really hurt anymore when we lose and that is a shockingly sad indictment of where we find Preston.
No doubt in my mind the club is on a downward spiral which cannot be allowed to go on, something has to change very soon.