Fans’ Panel’s John Roper says new faces can enhance Preston North End squad
A great result for North End on the road after two straight defeats in the Championship, with a Scott Sinclair goal in the 61st minute being the difference between the sides.
It was a horrible night, weather-wise, at St Andrew’s and neither team really mastered the conditions but a I think a pruple patch in the first 15 minutes of the second half from Alex Neil’s men was enough as the Blues threw everything at Preston near the end.
The first half was a pretty even affair with both teams taking time to settle on a really wet pitch.
After the break the football improved and PNE really should have had the game sewn up early in the second period. No matter as the boys battled hard when they had to and generally defended well to bring all three points back up the M6.
Alex Neil made four changes to the side beaten at Bristol City on Saturday with Ledson, Whiteman, Molumby and Riis coming in for Maguire, Johnson, Fisher and Barkhuizen. It was also a proud moment for the ‘Cumbrian Cannavaro’ as Paul Huntington made his 300th appearance in a North End shirt.
Preston started brightly enough but the conditions were not conducive to any sort of decent football early on in this encounter.
The home side had a early effort over the bar as both sides struggled against the elements.
Browne had North End’s best effort of the half, cutting in and shooting just wide of the far post.
The threat from the Blues was mainly down their left with Bela and Friend causing North End a few problems as the half wore on.
Iversen made a good diving save on the half-hour but at the other end Riis was continually getting caught offside with poorly timed runs.
Birmingham finished the half the better with a couple of half-chances but no score was probably the right outcome of a scratchy first half hoping that North End would create more after the break.
No changes from the manager at half time as PNE looked to build on a solid first half.
Just four minutes after the break Potts hit the post when he should really have scored and, just a minute later, the same player had a shot well saved by Etheridge in the home goal.
Scott Sinclair then had a chance which was saved but four minutes later came the goal that won the game.
Good work in midfield saw Molumby carry the ball to the edge of the box and his perfect ball through found Sinclair, who struck a pinpoint shot across the keeper and into the far corner.
The Blues had a couple of free-kicks that came to nothing as Barkhuizen replaced Sinclair and Johnson latterly replaced Molumby.
The home side had two good chances in the added seven minutes but North End held out for a well earned victory.
This was certainly a win that was much needed for Preston after the disappointment at Bristol City and at home to Forest.
It wasn’t a game for the purist, that is for sure, but I thought we just had a little tiny bit more composure on the ball than Birmingham, who looked like a team under pressure at times.
I thought our centre-backs were excellent on the evening but the man of the match for me was Jayson Molumby who showed some excellent midfield skills both in defence and in attack.
Maybe these new lads will enhance the squad once they get a few games under their belts and although Whiteman didn’t feature massively, his Championship education is growing every game.
Finally just a word for the old War Horse Paul Huntington, making his 300th appearance in a white shirt, who once again didn’t let North End down and seems to be getting better with age – well done Hunts.