New boss Ryan Lowe has got players fighting hard for the Preston cause, says fan John Roper

A  battling second half performance saw Preston take a point against Sheffield United.

By John Roper
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 12:51 pm

It felt more like a win after being two down at half-time and with only 10 men.

It was a first half to forget for North End with the Blades having 70% of possession and absolutely covering the ground like men possessed as they closed North End down before we could even get going.

A goal from Jayden Bogle set the Blades on their way and after Billy Sharp made it two from the penalty spot it was looking bleak for Ryan Lowe' s boys.

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Daniel Johnson, left and Ched Evans, right rush to congratulate Alan Browne after his goal reduced the deficit against Sheffield United

To add insult to injury Andrew Hughes was red carded in the incident leading to the penalty and it was difficult to see a way back.

Never-say-die North End came out in the second half galvanised by the half-time team talk and when Alan Browne made it 2-1 with 20 minutes left it was game on. With just a minute on the clock, Emil Riis sneaked in at the back post and snatched a point for jubilant North End when all had seemed lost.

The manager made two changes from the side that drew with Birmingham City on Saturday with Scott Sinclair coming in for Ched Evans and Tom Barkhuizen replacing Greg Cunningham.

The visitors started much the brighter roared on by 2,510 fans who had made the relatively short journey over Pennines and North End couldn't really get going.

Although Hughes had a shot early on it was United who took the lead after 17 minutes when the ball came out to Bogle and he shot through a crowd of players to give the Blades the lead.

North End were trying to get into the game but it all turned sour when on 38 minutes Hughes was adjudged to have fouled Brewster in the box. Sharp tucked away the penalty convincingly but the red card for Hughes looked very harsh to me and left North End having to play with 10 men for over 50 minutes.

After the break Joe Rafferty was introduced at the expense of Brad Potts and North End set about the seemingly difficult task of getting back in the game.

However, we certainly started better and when Ched Evans replaced Barkhuizen just after the hour North End went to a 4-3-2 formation and the fightback had begun.

Evans was influential in a lot of North End`s forward play and with just under 20 minutes to go we were back in the game when Browne calmly slotted home to instil some belief in the North End fans in a crowd of 12,954.

Lowe had gambled and been brave with his change of formation and personnel and it was starting to pay off. The game became very stretched and with the clock showing just 60 seconds of normal time remaining, Deepdale exploded.

A ball across the goal from the right hand side by Evans found Riis sliding in at the back post to knock the ball home and snatch North End a point, just as he had done to the Blades at Bramall Lane earlier in the season.

So North End come back from the dead with a tremendous second half display of guts, courage and bravery.

Previous managers in this parish may well of plumped for damage limitation at half time but Lowe does not possess a white flag in his kit bag and his charges did themselves proud with an excellent comeback.

The captain was the man of the match for me but Evans must be mentioned for his non stop work rate and fighting qualities once he was introduced into the proceedings.

There are going to be bumps along the way for North End as the squad transitions to Lowe's demands but if this fighting spirit and effort are shown every week then we are in for a rollercoaster ride.

Eight points from 12 is a very decent start for the new manager but there are a couple of stiff tests just around the corner and we will need to be at our best to collect some more precious points at Swansea and West Bromwich Albion.

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