North End lacked leadership in Reading defeat, says Preston fan John Roper

Isn’t it just typical for North End to get a couple of thousand more through the gate against a team near the bottom of the league and then to put in the worst performance of the season at home.

By John Roper
Sunday, 20th February 2022, 10:30 am

Reading scored three times leaving the hosts with a mountain to climb and although they finally woke from their slumber and scored twice, the task was too much and Ryan Lowe suffered a hugely disappointing first home defeat. Reading were one up within two minutes and two up in 20y with PNE looking rudderless.

It could have been three if not for a one-on-one save from Daniel Iversen. When the Royals got a third early in the second half, it started to look embarrassing but North End finally moved into forward gear as Daniel Johnson and Cameron Archer made it 3-2 but despite a late rush I thought the visitors managed the game well to deserve their surprising and unexpected win at Deepdale.

North End made just one change to the side that won at Peterborough last Saturday with Scott Sinclair taking over at left wing back from Josh Earl. It didn’t start well for the home side as inside 70 seconds, we were a goal down.

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PNE goalkeeper Daniel Iversen made a number of great stops against Reading

A scramble in the box saw Iversen save twice but Joao was on hand to give the visitors the lead. North End were way of the pace often giving the ball away and playing with very little purpose.

When Joao breezed past the Preston backline to make it two on 20 minutes, it looked like being a long afternoon for North End. On thirty five minutes Ryan Lowe took Brad Potts off to be replaced by Liam Lindsay as North End went to a back four to try and get back in the game.

Emil Riis blazed over when he really should have squared the ball and Iversen made a fabulous save to deny Joao to stop the Royals going in 3-0 up at the break. The manager swapped Ryan Ledson for Ben Whiteman at half-time but for the first 10 minutes it made very little difference.

Reading got the third goal through man-of- the-match Jonathon Swift and you would have thought that was the end of the game. However North End finally burst into life as Ched Evans was introduced in place of Riis and we started to up the tempo. Hopes were raised when Johnson collected the ball just outside the box and fired a slightly deflected shot past the visiting keeper.

North End were on top for the first time in the game as the visitors started to look a little shaky. With 15 minutes left another goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall to Archer who fired home for his fourth goal in six games to set Deepdale alight. It wasn’t to be though as North End could only muster a couple of half chances late on and a great chance to get on the heels of the play-off contenders had gone.

No doubting that Ryan Lowe will have learned plenty about his players in this defeat as North End’s winless streak at Deepdale goes on and on.

For me the two things that I took out of the game was the lack of leadership on the pitch from Preston and most of the players seemingly nervous about giving some of their team-mates the ball. Whether we were not quite right for the game mentally only the players will know but it was a performance that probably shocked a few inside Deepdale after the recent good run.

That is the Championship for you, though, any team can beat any other on any given day.

On Saturday it was our turn to be on the receiving end and a defeat of that nature to a side fourth bottom really stung some of the Deepdale faithful.

We have a chance to put it right quickly when Nottingham Forest visit Deepdale on Tuesday evening but the standard of performance will have to rise many notches if we are to take anything from that game.

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