John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: A win of any sort was just what we needed

This wasn’t exactly a game for the purists but North End will breathe a big sigh of relief as they opened their home account for the season with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale.

By John Roper
Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 12:30 pm

The game never reached any great heights but a goal in the third minute of the second half from Tom Barkhuizen was enough to see us home.

The first half only really stood out for two incidents and that was the sending off of Josh Windass for dangerous play in the 17th minute, and for a penalty shout for North End, turned down by the referee when Scott Sinclair went down in the box seven minutes from the break.

The goal just after the interval gave PNE a little bit of breathing space but I thought we were far too conservative in our play and should have gone for the second goal.

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Alex Neil made two changes to the side that lost at Rotherham before the international break with Jordan Storey stepping down and Patrick Bauer coming in, and Alan Browne isolating with Tom Barkhuizen taking his place.

The game started a little scrappily and to be honest I thought North End’s passing was poor in the early stages of the first half. The visitors had the first chance after 10 minutes with Adam Reach missing at the back post.

On the quarter-hour there were two half-chances for North End from corners which fell to Riis and Ledson. Two minutes later Wednesday were down to 10 men when Windass was sent off for almost sticking his boot into the throat of Joe Rafferty.

To be honest I don’t think it was pre-meditated but it looked awful on the replays and you can see why referee David Webb pulled out the red card. Seven minutes from the break North End were denied an absolute stonewall penalty when Palmer stuck out a leg and brought Sinclair down only for the man in black to wave play on.

The manager decided a change of formation, and of personnel, was what was required and Stockley and Gallagher were introduced into the fray at the expense of Potts and Rafferty.

It wasn’t long before the changes paid off as a recycled ball into the box was only punched by Westwood out to Barkhuizen who fired home with the left foot what was to be the winning goal.

It often happens that a bad run is broken by a game that won’t be remembered for long.

I didn’t expect us to go out and beat Wednesday by four or five but to be honest, and on the evidence of this, the manager at Hilslborough has more to do than the manager at Deepdale.

The win leaves us with 16 points from 12 games which is pretty much middle of the road so far in the Championship but I still feel Alex Neil has plenty to do to win over a sizable minority of the support.

Perhaps we will look back in another 12 games and comment what a crazy first quarter of the season it, was but for now I think we should just take the three points and reflect on a job done satisfactorily before we look for forward to Blackburn on Tuesday evening.