Let’s hope for a clean bill of health for festive games, says Preston North End Fans’ Panel’s John Roper

Not so much a game of two halves more a game of two performances in either half.

Sunday, 20th December 2020, 12:30 pm

North End dictated the game in the first 45 minutes and then defended very well particularly towards the end in the second.

Preston were well on top in the first half and really should have had more to show than the one goal.

After the break we had to dig deep at times and were helped by Declan Rudd making two superb saves and playing right at the top of his form.

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Scott Sinclair (left) was brought down for PNE's penalty

Elsewhere on the field, I thought Paul Gallagher was back to somewhere near his best and at the back Paul Huntington led by example on a windy evening under the Deepdale lights.

Sean Maguire and Scott Sinclair looked dangerous up front and I thought all things considered that although this was probably not the best performance of the season, it was a good all-round effort by the boys after being under some pressure before the game.

Alex Neil made just two changes to the team that started at Barnsley on Tuesday evening with Huntington and Scott Sinclair coming in for Andrew Hughes and Emil Riis. We had a couple of half-chances before taking the lead in the 21st minute.

Sinclair had been fouled after moving across the box and Daniel Johnson made no mistake giving PNE the lead from the spot.

We should have extended our advantage as Maguire was twice in the clear with one effort saved and one effort well defended. We were dominating to a greater degree but the Robins were posing a threat without any final ball.

Sinclair should really have sent us in two up right on the stroke of half-time after great work down the right by Tom Barkhuizen.

Bristol changed some personnel and their formation at half-time and took the game to North End right from the off.

O’Dowda looked the most dangerous of the opposition and the North End full-backs got plenty of work.

Darnell Fisher was probably lucky to still be on the pitch after receiving a yellow card then committing another yellow card offence only to be shown some leniency by referee Geoff Eltringham.

Rudd made a superb save halfway through the second half then made another excellent save near the end. You could certainly sense some relief at the final whistle after two very disappointing defeats on the road in the last seven days.

No doubt that the injuries to key players are not helping our cause but the lads who were out there more than held their own against a very forceful Bristol City team in the second half.

I thought the spine of the team was the big factor with Rudd, Huntington and Gallagher, in particular, rolling back the years.

North End will be glad of the nine-day break now before battle recommences at Derby on Boxing Day, followed by home games against Coventry and Forest.

Hopefully some of the injuries and niggles will clear up and we will have a cleaner bill of health for the three games in seven days.