John Smith’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Still in play-off berth with 10 games to go

Unfortunately on this rare leap day fixture the only people leaping around at the sound of the final whistle were the fans of the home side.
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The only crumb of comfort for the boisterous away fans was the fact that at full-time PNE were still in a play-off position with just 10 games of this seasons long Championship season left to go.

In the first half we more than matched our opponents and dominated most of it but we failed to take our chances.

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David Nugent had looked lively in an adventurous front three supported by Tom Barkhuizen and Sean Maguire.

Brad Potts was John Smith’s man of the matchBrad Potts was John Smith’s man of the match
Brad Potts was John Smith’s man of the match

At half-time on the ground where a diving Ricky Heppolette header secured promotion almost 50 years ago, I was hoping that when play resumed after the break this would be the day that our modern-day prodigal son could add to his paltry one goal since his summer return home.

The former England international did manage to get on the scoresheet 10 minutes into the second half with a flick header from a corner – but to our anguish it was from one taken by a Fulham player and his unfortunate own goal put the home side into the ascendancy.

In this league the opening goal is often the key to the eventual result, which proved to be the case on Saturday.

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Unlike in the first half, we did not create as much attacking-wise and a home win always seemed the game’s likely outcome despite both Scott Sinclair and Jayden Stockley being brought on in a bid to boost our attacking options.

It was our third defeat in four matches and we need to be more clinical like boxer Tyson Fury and start delivering a knockout blow when we are well ahead on points.

Goals win games and if you don’t score the best you will get out of it is a 0-0 draw and if your opponents score you get nothing at all.

My man of the match was Brad Potts whose impressive display was more like last season before he picked up his injury.