John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Dull displays at heart of the fans’ frustration
The bitterest of pills for North End fans to swallow after a 2-0 reverse at the hands of the old enemy at Bloomfield Road.
I’m not sure it was the defeat itself which caused the anger amongst the fans but the manner of the defeat and the lack of energy in the side with no convincing Plan A, B or C. Certainly the people I spoke to after the game were almost unanimous in their frustration at the dull football generally being offered by North End of late.
A goal in each half for the Seasiders was enough to give them the win at a very highly charged Bloomfield Road.
To add insult to injury Alan Browne was sent off in added time at the end of the game for his involvement in a ruck after a very poor tackle on Sean Maguire. All in all a very frustrating afternoon for the Preston fans and the bragging rights are now lost until at least next March.
Frankie McAvoy kept the same starting XI that beat Coventry City, with Sean Maguire coming back into the squad on the bench.
Efforts on goal were at a premium but an early Whiteman effort was easily saved by Grimshaw in the Blackpool goal. The home side were playing the better football early in the game and just before the half hour they took the lead when Husband played Anderson in and he seemed to slightly mis-hit his effort but it sneaked inside the post.
North End rallied a little after the goal with an effort by Sinclair and another by Hughes just before the break but in all honesty North End’s attacking play was sparse to say the least.
A crucial point in the game came in the second half when Whiteman had the chance to finish off an excellent counter-attack but, incredibly, put his shot wide.
It was to be our best chance of the game and with it went any chance of getting back in the match as the home side made it 2-0 soon afterwards through the evergreen Gary Madine. This was after Maguire and Barkhuizen had replaced Johnson and Earl with McAvoy reverting to a 4-4-2 formation.
To be honest the subs had little impact and apart from a Sinclair half chance added to Browne’s sending off there was very little action late on as the game fizzled out to its inevitable conclusion. So a seventh away league game for PNE and still no away win.
Just three points from those seven games suggest this is going to be a season battling against relegation unless we can quickly escalate our level of performance.
Many were calling for the managers head at the end of the game as the fans sang “Frankie, time to go”. It has gone rather stale rather quickly for North End this season but I think it is the general level of performance that is foremost in the fans’ minds.
Clearly we need to improve and we need to improve quickly and it certainly is not all the manager’s fault.
We have a free hit on Wednesday evening against Liverpool but with Luton visiting Deepdale next Saturday, that is a game which takes on a huge significance particularly for the boss.