John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: We must stand up and be counted now!

Two points thrown away is the only thought in my mind after PNE looked comfortable without being spectacular again a Luton side destined for League One next season.

Sunday, 21st June 2020, 12:30 pm

Scott Sinclair had given North End the lead seven minutes into the second half but as chances came and went you always thought that the home side might just get their moment to get back in the game.

Sure enough with just over three minutes left of the 90, McManaman made the scores level and turned, what looked like being a decent result for North End into an ultimately disappointing afternoon for Alex Neil and his boys.

I think what made the result all the more difficult to take was that for most of the 90 minutes the Hatters looked like a League One side and North End failed to take advantage.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

An eerie atmosphere at Kenilworth Road on Saturday (photo: CameraSport)

We should have pressed more when we were on top and you have to say we will not make the top six if we don’t kill off poor teams.

The manager made two changes from the team that started against QPR 105 days ago, with Ben Pearson and Scott Sinclair coming in at the expense of Darnell Fisher and Josh Harrop. Luton had their best spell of the first half in the opening five minutes as North End got themselves sorted out.

For the next 20 minutes we dominated the game with Sinclair and Maguire having half-chances to put us ahead.

But North End went in level at half-time in a game that, for the most part, they had dominated.

PNE started the second half pretty much as Luton had started the first. You could see the boys getting on top and it was no surprise when we took the lead after seven minutes of the second period with Barkhuizen winning the ball and putting Scott Sinclair in at inside left and the former Celtic winger coolly slotted the ball into the far corner of the Luton goal from a tight angle.

Surely we would go on to win the game comfortably?

Alas it was not to be the case as North End couldn’t find their way to that all important second goal.

We paid a very heavy price in the final few minutes as McManaman beat Rudd with a shot from the edge of the box to give the home side a point they hardly deserved.

Incredibly we were still hanging on to that sixth spot, however we have now played all of our ‘Get out of jail free’ cards and winning must be the name of the game.

This was a really frustrating result because although we were nowhere near at our best we should have had way more than enough to beat a Luton side destined for the drop.

I won’t offer mitigation in this instance because it was the same circumstances for both teams and the fact is we didn’t create enough clear-cut chances or put away the chances that we had. Two games at home to come which are both on Sky against Cardiff and Derby and we really must make it count.

Perhaps we blew the cobwebs away in this game but so did all the other teams and next Saturday at Deepdale it is time to stand up and be counted.