John Roper’s Fans’ Panel verdict: Don’t blame McAvoy...Preston North End players have to take responsibility

Not quite the return to Deepdale that North End fans were hoping for as we were thrashed by a Hull City side riding high on the back of winning League One last season.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 12:30 pm

However don’t let that be an excuse or for that matter, don’t let anything be an excuse for a PNE opening-day performance that had a season of struggle written all over it.

In spite of taking an early lead with a very well created goal we then proceeded to concede four times to really take the sting out of, what we hoped would be, a triumphant homecoming for the Deepdale faithful.

Losing Declan Rudd after 12 minutes with concussion seemed to change the game and save for a 10-minute spell at the start of the second half we looked like we had never played with each other before. S

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North End’s Alan Browne fails to connect in the penalty area

eldom can I remember an opening-day performance when we lacked energy, cohesion, moved the ball so slowly and generally just not be in the game, apart from the first 10 minutes of each half.

North End started brightly enough with McAvoy sticking with the 3-4-1-2 that served us so well in the final eight games of last season.

In the second minute Rudd got a bang on the head when heading clear from a Hull attack. He carried on after treatment but only lasted another 10 minutes before he was replaced by Daniel Iversen. I

n the interim North End took the lead after Browne put Barkhuizzen away down the right and Emil Riis finished nicely at the back post. However from that moment North End seemed to go into their shell and the Tigers certainly came out of theirs.

Lewis-Potter was put through and made no mistake poking the ball under Iversen after shocking defending from North End.

McAvoy did make a double substitution at the start of the second half.

We reverted to a 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield and again started the half well but as the game went on we seemed bereft of any meaningful game plan and it was no surprise when Smallwood put the visitors in the lead just after the hour mark.

From that moment on there was only going to be one winner and when Magennis made it three via more woeful defending, and when Cannon made it four in time added on, Hull had the win they fully deserved.

I thought the North End fans were very good on the day to be honest and they didn’t boo or get on the players backs when things went very pear shaped in the second half.

I think the most disappointing thing in this performance was the fact that we have seen so many similarities with what we saw in pre-season.

Lack of energy, forwards often isolated, no leader on the pitch, poor and slow movement of the ball and though I hate to say it after one game, one or two players looked like they were going through the motions.

I will unreservedly give Frankie McAvoy the benefit of the doubt on this occasion because the players must share in the responsibility as well.