John Roper’s PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: As good a win as we’ve had this season

PNE fans before kick-off at the City Ground
PNE fans before kick-off at the City Ground

A second win on the road for PNE with a battling display against high-flying Forest.

In a first half not dissimilar to the one at St Andrews last Saturday,

North End found themselves on the back foot for the majority of the half yet could almost have considered themselves unlucky not to be going in one up at half-time.

After the break we saw some of the old Preston of last season with a more determined approach, and slowly but surely grinding down the home side until the threat had been virtually snuffed out.

Add to this the all-important goal scored by Louis Moult, 10 minutes into the second half and it ended up being the perfect away day for the travelling fans.

It was the usual 4-2-3-1 for Preston but with four changes to the side that was beaten so comprehensively seven days ago. Back into the side came skipper Tom Clarke along with Ben Davies, Andrew Hughes and the surprise inclusion of Daniel Johnson who returned much earlier than expected.

Even though North End soaked up some pressure in the first half, the experience that came back into the side was there for all to see.

Forest had plenty of the ball early on but most of their efforts broke down on the edge of the box with Rudd having to make a decent save with his legs.

Barkhuizen was clean through on the half-hour and although his shot was saved it had to be kicked off the line.

Forest countered but we were happy enough going in level at break. North End came out rejuvenated and looked galvanised in the passage of play immediately after the break with Lukas Nmecha, on for the injured Brandon Barker, causing plenty of trouble down the Preston right-hand side.

The goal came from a corner on the right with Gallagher playing the ball to Nmecha, who got in close near the right-hand post and squared for Moult to get his leg in first and poke the ball into the net.

The goal sparked huge celebrations from the travelling 1,402 fans with players and fans alike sharing in the celebrations.

Forest then tried to get the equaliser as you would expect but this determined PNE side gradually removed all the fight from the home side and the longer the game went the less likely Forest were to score.

So a somewhat unexpected three points on the road on a damp, cold miserable day in Robin Hood country.

I was deleighted to see that Alex Neil kept faith with Declan Rudd and the keeper repaid him with a faultless performance and a clean sheet to boot.

It wasn’t the best performance of the season but given the circumstances with injuries and the opponents I thought it was as good a result as any we have had this term. We are now seven points clear of the drop zone and have taken 20 points from the last 11 games.

Currently sitting 15th in the table it would be a great target to aim for to be in the top half by the time we have played Rotherham on New Year’s Day and with the transfer window opening.