Fans’ Panel’s John Smith fears loss of best player Ben Pearson

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There were no sweet 16 celebrations for me on Saturday night as our remarkable 15-game unbeaten run against Bristol City came to an end.

Before the game, buoyed by seeing captain Alan Browne show tremendous loyalty to the club by signing a new contract in midweek, I was optimistic that it would be us and not the Robins who would be doing the singing at the end.

Despite a disappointing loss to Nottingham Forest in our last league outing we were still only five points off the play-offs with half the season left to play, and with Bristol having lost four out of their last five league games I felt that there might be an opportunity to make some headway towards the top end of the table.

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However as the saying goes “it is always the hope what kills you” and by the end of the game my pre-match optimism had well and truly faded.

Alan Browne showed his loyalty by signing a new dealAlan Browne showed his loyalty by signing a new deal
Alan Browne showed his loyalty by signing a new deal

The defeat stretched the gap to the play-off places to eight points which, while not impossible to make up, makes me think is now highly unlikely.

My dejection was magnified when news broke that Ben Pearson – our best player in my opinion – now looks set to be heading for the Deepdale departure lounge.

The game was another case of the chainsaw not firing up as well as it should be, as again we lacked a cutting edge.

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After conceding a poor goal by allowing the home side a free header from a corner early on in the first half, we did not have any meaningful attacks.

Although we improved in the second and dominated possession we still could not create much in the way of goalscoring opportunities.

Although the manager did play two up front after the home side doubled their lead with their first attack of the half in the game’s final quarter we looked less likely to score as the game petered out.

I feel this season the team, like Austin Powers, appears to have lost its mojo and desperately needs to get it back as soon as possible.