John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: A night to remember in this crazy division!
Frankie McAvoy did what 15 other managers have failed to do in the Championship, this season, and that is beat Scott Parker’s Cherries.
Although the three points are very welcome indeed, as North End look to rub out those first three games of the season, it was the manner of this Preston victory that was so pleasing.
Many teams would have rolled over looking at the home side’s impressive league record but all North End rolled up was their sleeves and gave that full 90- minute performance that the fans have been looking for all season.
After a cagey but hard fought first half PNE took the lead though Ben Whiteman, only for the home side to equalise through Philip Billing.
However great work from Emil Riis saw Ali McCann calmly slot the ball home to put North End 2-1 up and from that moment they defended like lions.
Daniel Iversen made a superb double save and after six long minutes of additional time the points were on the way back up the M3.
The North End manager named a completely unchanged squad from the players that beat Luton on Saturday but kept his tried and trusted 3-4-1-2 formation.
For the best part of 30 minutes this game was a really tight affair with the home side closing North End down at every opportunity and giving us little time to play on the ball.
Preston reciprocated the home tactic and apart from a Billing free-kick there was little to shout about early on.
North End then came much more into the game having seen the home side threat off and began to make some inroads.
The impressive Barkhuizen, playing right wing-back, was causing trouble down the flank and Maguire and McCann were linking well and turning the home side on their heels.
North End had three or four half-chances late on in the first half but just couldn’t make them count as the side went in goal-less at half-time
No changes for North End at half-time and no need as the boys had put a very accomplished first half performance in and deserved the chance to go on and finish the job.
It took North End just seven minutes to take the lead with a well-worked goal.
Maguire put Barky through on the right and his cross found McCann who steered the ball to Whiteman, who made no mistake from near the penalty spot in giving North End the lead.
It was no more than we deserved but just seven minutes later, Bournemouth were level with Billing firing home a deflected shot off the body of Bauer.
North End could have settled for a point but kept coming forward and just over 10 minutes from the end we got our reward.
Riis charged down the inside-left position away from a defender before laying the ball back beautifully for McCann, who made no mistake in slotting the winner home.
PNE did soak some pressure up in the final stages and had Iversen to thank for a brilliant double save late on in the game but on the 90 minutes, we fully deserved our victory.
No wonder the North End manager was exuberant at the end of the game, describing his squad as being magnificent on the evening and also using the same adjective to describe the 307 fans who made the 546-mile round trip on a Wednesday in November.
The fans were as one throughout the game and backed the boys superbly.
This was the longest trip of the season for those who wear the badge proudly on their chest and the players came over to acknowledge the travelling fans’ input at the end of the game, which was nice to see.
How many times does it happen that a team who haven’t won away beats a team who haven’t lost at home, or away from home for that matter?
This Championship is the most craziest of divisions this season and after some calls for the manager’s head after the Blackpool defeat we now find ourselves in a bit of good form and just four points from the play-offs.
Greavsie, God rest his soul, wasn’t kidding when he said football is a funny old game.