John Smith's PNE Fans' Panel verdict: Mid-table finish would have been far worse had it not been for that fantastic start

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​Like the horticultural enthusiasts participating in World Naked Gardening Day – which is held on every first Saturday in May – our ‘goals for’ column was also bare, with our defence suffering a prickly time in this uninspiring 3-0 loss at The Hawthorns.

It was our fifth successive defeat and our fifth one without scoring in what has been a really disappointing end-of-season run-in for the faithful to have to witness.

The last time we lost five in a row like this was over two decades ago in January 2003 during the days of Craig Brown's tenure at the club...but at least then we managed to score one goal!

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Earlier in the week we had not managed a single shot on target until injury time in our game with Leicester, and although in this one we managed to get on the front foot at times in the first half, we never really looked like taking anything from this game once Albion had taken the lead with a converted penalty in first-half injury time.

Alan Browne volleys a pass with West Bromwich Albion’s Josh Maja (photo: Lee Parker/CameraSport)Alan Browne volleys a pass with West Bromwich Albion’s Josh Maja (photo: Lee Parker/CameraSport)
Alan Browne volleys a pass with West Bromwich Albion’s Josh Maja (photo: Lee Parker/CameraSport)

Although I agree that Albion, like Leicester, Southampton, Norwich and Queens Park Rangers, do carry a much greater financial clout than North End I personally have been shocked by the overall lacklustre manner of our performances during these dismal defeats.

On Saturday I was particularly unimpressed with what I thought was our Sunday League standard of defending before Albion’s two further second-half goals which sealed their convincing win and made it an overall 7-0 aggregate score in our two games against them this season.

Manager Ryan Lowe had repeatedly said that he did not want the season to fizzle out like last season but in my eyes this is exactly what has happened.

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Watching it all unfold has made me feel a bit like a contestant on the quiz programme The Chase, whose team – after building up a decent points total – has then had to agonisingly watch it all being wiped out after being caught by the chaser.

However on Saturday there was no need for a smug-looking Bradley Walsh to inform us of this as for us our play-off chase was over after the Norwich game.

They say that the table never lies and you are where you are at the season end for a reason.

For us to finish mid-table in this division competing against sides with far bigger budgets could be seen as a successful season by many people looking in from the outside.

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My own opinion on this campaign is that after a great start I have not seen any of the much-talked-about progression, as we have finished on a similar number of points to which we have in the last two seasons.

Our two long spells of bad results during mid and end of season have also contained some really dreadful, dour football which has turned some fans off "the brand" and swayed me into thinking that in all honesty we have been lucky to have avoided being involved in a relegation scrap.

I also think that at this moment in time in reality we are a long way off being play-off contenders, and that our squad and performances deserve no better than this mid-table finish which would undoubtedly have been far worse had it not been for that fantastic start.

Some of our fans attended Saturday's match in fancy dress, including Elvis Presley, Batman and Robin, and even a banana, but this poor quality game was not much of an end-of-season party for them.

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With two of our best players this season, Liam Millar and Alan Browne, seemingly all set for the departure lounge, we will need some superheroes on the pitch in our next campaign if we are not to end up in the Heartbreak Hotel come next May.