John Smith’s PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: Play-off flame still flickers ahead of trip to Blackburn Rovers

Alan Browne gets a header on goal
Alan Browne gets a header on goal

Saturday’s game was a massive six-pointer and a victory for North End would have opened up the chase for the last play-off spot, not only for ourselves but also for a cluster of mid-table clubs with similar aspirations.

We had not lost against “The Boys from Brizzle “since the relegation season of 2010-11 in a sequence of 11 matches and were bidding for a seventh win on the bounce against our favourite opponents in recent times. In the first half, similar to the home games against Forest and Derby, we found City’s defence as difficult to open up as a tin of corned beef.

However just before half-time the key to finally ripping the lid off the tight defence came in the shape of a delightful set-piece move crafted on the Springfield training ground and executed with precision by Daniel Johnson.

Hopes of closing the gap to a tantalising three points were dashed in the second half as The Robins came out fighting, showing why they are one of the current form teams in the division.

They continually chiselled away at our resolute defence until they eventually carved out an equaliser. After a period of sitting back we got back onto the front foot after this as the match swung from end to end in the last 20 minutes but there was no further scoring despite both teams giving it a good go.

The draw was our fifth one in our last six at Deepdale and probably delighted the away side but on the plus side it extended our current unbeaten league run and we go into next weekend’s important derby at Ewood Park unbeaten in nine matches.

For most of the season we have been told by our friends from East Lancashire to be mindful of “The Gap” and have heeded their advice before successfully bridging it. Hopefully we can now further extend it by recording a fifth successive away win which would also keep the flickering play off flame and the season very much alive.