Preston finished with a flourish as they saw off Burton on the final day of the season at Deepdale with a 2-1 win.
ALSO READ: Match report - PNE 2 Burton Albion 1
The result wasn’t enough for North End to make the play-offs and ultimately relegated the Brewers.
There’s no shame in seventh
In athletics they say fourth is the worst position to finish - agonisingly close to a medal. So is seventh the same in the Championship? In Preston’s case, certainly not. The six teams above are big hitters of the second tier and there is absolutely no shame in just missing out this time around. This is an emerging squad that gave it everything from first whistle to last in the 2017-2018 campaign and will come back even better next time around. As frustrating as not extending the season is, this has been a largely excellent campaign.
Deepdale suits being full
It was quite rightly a big-game atmosphere in the May sunshine on Sunday. Deepdale was truly a picture and it was fitting that Louis Moult’s late goal, which will be a tonic for the striker, sent the home faithful away for the summer with a spring in their step. Boosted by a healthy following of nearly 2,000 from Burton, a crowd 17,085 watched this final-day encounter. This team deserves increasingly bigger audiences. It will be interesting to see if the numbers are up when we return in August
Bodin will have to learn
The one downer on the afternoon was Billy Bodin’s red card for two bookings he will want to forget in a hurry. Booked for helping the ball into the net with his hand shortly before half-time it was only five minutes into the second half when Andy Madley adjudged the winger had dived in the box and brandished a second yellow that meant an early bath. As red cards go it’s amongst the softest. Bodin has ‘won’ penalties for North End this season but is treading a fine line. When already on a booking, common sense really needs to prevail too.
Welshy will be missed....
Yes, he hasn’t played much this season but after six years Deepdale will miss John Welsh’s presence off the field as much as on it. The midfield talisman was presented with a memento of his time at the club by Alex Neil pre-match, something which, given the gravity of the game, PNE didn’t have to do. It says a lot that he has been asked to continue working with the academy if his next move allows. They clearly value having Welsh the character around the place, someone who has been so key in the club’s rise from the depths of League One to the sharp end of the Championship
...and so will Burton
Let’s face it. Given their financial punching power Burton had no real business having one season in the Championship let alone two. Their fans went through ecstasy and agony at Deepdale on Sunday. Safe, down, safe and then ultimately down thanks to Bolton’s comeback against Nottingham Forest some 20 miles away it was a real rollercoaster of emotions. They saluted their players post-match knowing they had put in a fine bid to stay up, three straight wins having set up a potential great escape. It wasn’t to be though and now they must ready themselves for life in League One.