John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Performance could be turning point in our season

When people look back on this entertaining Carabao Cup fourth-round tie the predominant thoughts will be the chances that North End missed in the first 45 minutes that could have meant a very different ending.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 8:00 am

As it was, the 2-0 scoreline to Liverpool slightly flattered the Reds, I thought, as Preston will rue four decent chances in the first half with two of them being excellent opportunities.

Early in the game Tom Barkhuizen had an opportunity, followed by a Ryan Ledson shot but the two that came later in the half through Brad Potts and Sean Maguire were clearly good goal scoring chances.

Liverpool looked comfortable on the ball but North End caught them with several good breaks in the first period.

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After the break we didn’t have as much impact on the game and the goals form Minamino and a late second from Origi were enough to give the visitors a path through to the last eight of the competition.

Frankie McAvoy made nine changes from the horror defeat at Blackpool on Saturday and to be fair to North End, the players that came in certainly did themselves justice.

We looked a little nervous at the start but within 10 minutes North End were looking a lot more comfortable and turning Liverpool around.

Barkhuizen had the first chance with a left-foot shot that went just over.

The visitors had plenty of possession but the PNE defence looked solid and assured.

Ledson then had a shot that dipped over the bar with Adrian looking on.

North End then had a couple of great chances to take the lead as Potts was put through but Adrian managed to tip his effort over when he really should have scored.

Maguire then had a great chance to put us into the lead but Adrian saved again and Ledson’s follow-up was cleared off the line only for Potts to fire over when once again he should have done better.

Just how we didn’t go into the break in the lead is anybody’s guess but we were to pay for our missed opportunities later.

No subs for North End at half-time but it became obvious within the first five minutes of the second period that we had used quite a lot of juice in that first-half performance.

We were not getting the ball up as quickly and turning Liverpool around and as such fell deeper into our own half even though we appeared to be holding our own.

Barkhuizen had a half-chance but it was the visitors who eventually took the lead when Minamino was first to the ball from a Williams cross and fired home past Declan Rudd to open the scoring.

McAvoy eventually made all five substitutions that he was allowed as North End went to try and level the score in the last 15 minutes of the game.

However it was Liverpool who secured victory when a cross hit the bar over Rudd’s head and as it was played back in the striker audaciously back-heeled a volley into the net.

It was tough on McAvoy’s men who certainly paid the price for those first half misses.

So Preston’s involvement in the Carabao Cup ends at the fourth-round stage and there was certainly no disgrace in our exit from the competition.

Yes, it was pretty much a second-string Liverpool outfit but there were plenty of full internationals on show for the crowd of 22,131 to enjoy.

A tale of what might have been but I hope North End take confidence from this performance and carry it forward into the league program and the crucial game against Luton Town at Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.

It was great to see Deepdale full albeit with the help of 5,611 fans from Merseyside and let’s hope that North End get some good backing on Saturday for the really important game of the week against the Hatters.

No lack of effort or commitment from Preston in this encounter and although it was a defeat let’s hope it is the beginning of the turnaround of the season.