John Smith’s Preston North End fans’ panel verdict: What might have been had we kept Hugill, Robinson and Cunningham

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As expected the barely flickering play-off flame was finally extinguished on Saturday despite our first home win since February.

Birmingham who were without a win in their previous 12 outings offered very little up front throughout the game apart from a brief flurry at the beginning of the second half as they tried to cancel out the goal scored just before the break by Patrick Bauer.

We always looked likely to take the three points which were made certain by a well-taken goal from Brad Potts.

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It felt strange to feel so disappointed after a home win especially as it also produced our first home clean sheet since September.

Patrick Bauer (extreme left) celebrates after netting the opening goal (photo: CameraSport)Patrick Bauer (extreme left) celebrates after netting the opening goal (photo: CameraSport)
Patrick Bauer (extreme left) celebrates after netting the opening goal (photo: CameraSport)

Since we briefly topped the table in November our performances and results have been poor at times and our season has now ended with the agony of missing out on a play-off place.

The only positive I can take is that without the play-offs a longer summer break will give the players more time to recover both physically and mentally from a hard season which will hopefully help them make a stronger challenge next season.

There is no doubt that Trevor Hemmings has saved our club from bankruptcy but as a fan it is frustrating that although we have a multi-millionaire owner we have not made any progress in terms of league position in the 10 years of his ownership.

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While some fans will trot out the familiar lack of ambition accusations in their post mortem of this season I understand that Mr Hemmings’ pockets are not a bottomless pit to fund a football club but we do need some investment if we are to progress further and not go in the opposite direction.

In fairness to Mr Hemmings, his money this season has funded the wages of the supposedly marquee signings of David Nugent and Scott Sinclair but unfortunately for whatever reasons they have not had the impact this season I would have expected in terms of the overall strengthening of the team.

Another frustration is that I feel that if we could have kept Jordan Hugill, Callum Robinson and Greg Cunningham – or replaced them with players of a similar quality – this season we might have not been too far away of achieving the Premier League dream.