John Smith’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: I’ll take a repeat of this in Tuesday’s derby with Blackburn!

The relief I felt on Saturday after we had ended our run of five consecutive home league defeats was similar to the one I had when I last left the dentists after finally having a nagging painful tooth extracted.

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

On the touchline Alex Neil must also have felt that it was like pulling teeth trying to carve out chances against opponents managed by our old “buddy” Tony Pulis whose team “parked the bus” after being reduced to 10 men early on in the game following the dismissal of Josh Windass.

In order to try and make a breakthrough Neil changed from his rigid 4-2-3-1 home formation and made a double substitution at the interval following a dour first half in which neither goalkeeper was troubled.

The changes paid off just three minutes later when the Wednesday keeper could only punch a high cross aimed towards one of the subs, Jayden Stockley, out for Tom Barkhuizen to volley into the net.

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Patrick Bauer battles with Sheffield Wednesday’s Callum Paterson

It was the first time that we had scored the all important opening goal in a home league game this season and we comfortably saw out the match without being put under any severe pressure.

The win was important not just in ending the home hoodoo but in terms of in which direction we are heading before a gruelling run of two matches a week leading up to the New Year. Before the game we were six points off both a play-off and bottom-three position but now the gap at the bottom has been stretched to eight.

The return of the sorely missed Ben Pearson is another major plus as we head into our biggest home league game of the season when we take on our “friends” from East Lancashire on Tuesday.

Although being behind closed doors the game won’t have the same intensity for the players, it will not be like that for the fans and I for one will take a repeat of Saturday’s display if it means we can retain our workplace bragging rights.