John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Victory can’t paper over the cracks

A cracking cup-tie at the Mazuma Stadium saw North End go through to the last 32 of the Carabao Cup with a thrilling 4-2 victory over the Shrimps.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 8:00 am

Preston were two goals to the good and apparently cruising until the home side fought back to level things with just an hour on the clock.

Frankie McAvoy’s side managed to move up a gear in the final 30 minutes of the game to see us home in relative comfort after teetering a little after the home side equalised.

Two goals for Emil Riis, a thunderbolt from Ryan Ledson and a tap in from Sepp van den Berg were enough to see the North End’s number in Wednesday evening’s third-round draw.

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Brad Potts is challenged by Greg Leigh and Anthony O’Connor of Morecambe (photo: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

I think the manager will be generally happy with the North End performance as I am sure Steve Robinson will with the performance of his Morecambe side in what was a pulsating affair in front of 4,334 on the Lancashire coast.

North End made five changes to the side that beat Peterborough on Saturday with Rudd, Rafferty, Cunningham, Potts and Riis all coming into the starting eleven.

Indeed, it was Riis who opened the scoring after just seven minutes when a lovely through ball found the Dane in the clear and he made no mistake coolly slotting home.

It was Riis again just after the half-hour who made it two for PNE after the Morecambe keeper and a defender collided leaving Riis the simple task of putting the ball in the net and leaving North End seemingly in the driving seat.

However, in added time at the end of the first half, O’Connor bundled the ball home for Morecambe at the back post after a free kick from the right wasn’t dealt with by the North End defence.

So what had seemed like a very routine evening was suddenly back at the game on stage as the Shrimps went in at the break with their tails up.

No changes for Preston at half-time but it was Morecambe who came out much the better and much sharper at the start of the second half.

They were winning the 50/50 battles in midfield as North End took a while to get into gear in the second period.

It was not really a surprise when the home side equalised on the hour with Cole Stockton’s well placed shot levelling up the score.

For a moment North End were on the back foot but almost instantly upped their game and started to wear the Shrimps down.

It wasn’t long before Ledson scored the goal of the evening with an absolute howitzer that gave the home keeper no chance whatsoever.

The 1,774 travelling PNE fans were on their feet celebrating and with about 10 minutes to go they were on their feet again when Van den Berg tapped home a deflected cross from Cunningham and North End were into round three.

So Preston go through after a excellent cup tie and we hope to draw one of the big boys in round three of this competition in which we have never reached the last eight in our history.

All wins are good wins and this will help restore some more belief in the squad after Saturday’s vital first win of the season.

I thought we played part of this game in third gear and I think there is still more to come from this squad in terms of what it can achieve.

However two consecutive wins do not paper over any cracks at all for me and North End must recruit before the close of the transfer window if the fans are to have anything to look forward to this season.

This is still much work to do for Frankie and the backroom staff but for now we can at least reflect on a tricky job well done in the second round of the Carabao Cup as we all look forward to the our ball coming out first in the third-round draw.