John Roper’s Fans’ Panel verdict: A wasted chance for Preston North End

A golden opportunity spurned just after the hour mark was the tale of the tape as North End drew 0-0 with Millwall on a mild February evening at The Den.

By John Roper
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 8:00 am

A sparse crowd inside the home of the Lions saw both sides have plenty of possession without creating too much but alas it was PNE who won the penalty – only to watch in horror as Ben Whiteman hit the upright very hard with his spot-kick and the ball rebound back into play and to safety.

Both sides had one decent effort in the first half and to be honest I thought North End were slightly better on the ball than their hosts.

We defended quite resolutely and Gary Rowett’s side found breaking North End down a tricky little task.

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Millwall's Tyler Burey (centre) battles for the ball with North End's Alan Browne (right) and Brad Potts

After the break we were clearly the better side and when Hughes was fouled it look like our moment had come only for the usually reliable Whiteman to fail on this occasion and a potential three points became only one.

Manager, Ryan Lowe made three changes to the side that drew at home with Bristol City on Saturday.

Ali McCann, Ched Evans and Liam Lindsay came in with Alan Browne, Patrick Bauer and Cameron Archer dropping down to the bench.

North End, in their traditional White and Blue, started solidly if unspectacularly as Millwall looked to follow up a home win on Saturday against out-of-form West Brom.

There was little to write home about in terms of chances for the best part of half an hour but Millwall did have a free-kick that hit the wall and then Iversen easily saving a shot from outside the box.

Riis had one effort at the other end but it, too, was comfortably saved by the Millwall keeper.

In fact both goalkeepers were probably a little cold when they when in for their half-time refreshment as most of the game had been played in the middle of the park.

No changes for North End at the start of the second half as we started quite brightly kicking towards the 516 hardy souls sat in the North Stand cheering the boys on.

I thought it was a really good following for a rearranged night game in February and credit to every one of them for the support they gave the boys throughout the ninety minutes.

Afobe went clear in the inside-left position and for a moment there looked like danger but Iversen was quickly out to smother any threat from the big striker.

With 62 minutes gone, Hughes was fouled from a corner in the Millwall area and Kevin Friend pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Whiteman looking confident enough but unfortunately hit the post with his effort and the chance had gone.

Lowe introduced Earl, Archer and Browne but North End couldn’t force the issue and ended up having to settle for one point instead of three.

So with three matches of this nine-match run in 28 days to go, North End have taken seven points from the six games played, winning one, drawing four and losing at Swansea.

Far too early to make any sort of judgement on the credentials of Ryan Lowe but we have seen one or two players included that we haven’t seen in a while.

One example of this was Liam Lindsay who I though did a steady job in the centre of the back three coming in for Patrick Bauer.

While the overall performance can be best described as workmanlike I though Preston started better down in South Bermondsey and passed the ball quicker to the next man.

I can see what Lowe is trying to do and if he succeeds it will be very good to watch.

For now, though, the new manager must watch and learn with his new charges and there is no doubt he is learning plenty of things every game.