Preston North End supporters have their say on the disappointing 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town at Deepdale
The worst home performance under Alex Neil and a blow to North End’s hopes of reaching the play offs come the first week in May.
Those are the cold facts of Saturday's display and while the blame game is always at the forefront of some people’s post match comments we should be looking at the big picture overall and not one shocker on a Saturday afternoon.
Now set the facts aside and I will give you my opinion which is that, firstly, Ipswich did what we have done several times this season. They closed down well and took their chance when it came in the game.
Calum Woods didn't look anywhere near his normal self on his return and the rest of the team played for long periods like they were strangers to one another.
Seldom have I seen a Preston side change formation as often as I did on Saturday and that cannot have helped the level of the overall performance.
Mick McCarthy simply outwitted Alex Neil for the second time this season and I’m afraid it showed big time on the field.
orth End kicked off with the 4-4-2 that proved successful at Villa Park on Tuesday evening but North End looked a shadow of the side that outplayed the Villains. Ipswich could have been a goal up the first few few minutes if Declan Rudd had not pull off a good save to keep the Tractor Boys out.
Ipswich looked more comfortable, more organised and in complete control as North End lumped the ball forward to Moult and Robinson only for it to come back as fast as it went up field. Yes we had plenty of corners but we were not making the set pieces count.
Carayol scored, what turned out to be the winner when he won a header and left Woods in no man’s land before coolly slotting home past Rudd to the delight of the 474 travelling fans. It could have been two or three for the visitors before Earl and Harrop replaced Woods and Robinson well before half time as North End tried to get back in the game but apart from a Cunningham shot we showed very little up to the end of the first half.
After the break I think everyone in the ground expected a North End reaction but in all honesty, until the last 15 minutes, it was very similar to the performance in the first half. North End got on the ball a little bit better but we never really looked like scoring in the whole of the 90 minutes.
Our best chance probably came through Cunningham again as a fierce left foot shot went goalwards but was dealt with by the Ipswich keeper who had a much quieter afternoon thanhe must have anticipate. Neil threw Paul Huntington forward in the last quarter and went 3-4-3 but although the Cumbrian Cannavaro won one or two headers late on it didn’t make all that much difference to the game or the outcome.
Horgan worked his socks off when he came on as the final sub but it was a very flat and disappointing afternoon for the North End fans in another disappointing crowd of 11,511. You just have to wonder where the 2,000 home fans from the Wolves game had disappeared to in just seven days. One game doesn’t make a season and we cannot do anything about what has gone only about what is coming up.
Perhaps the manager will give the boys a couple of days off after a punishing few weeks particularly with playing with 10 men at Brentford and at home to Wolves for a long period. The positive are that this type of performance has been the exception under Neil and not the norm and I think it is safe to say that we will see a real reaction to this defeat on Gentry Day at Bolton next Saturday.
Straight-talking Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy once said after a defeat, "They looked like a bloody good team and we looked like a bunch of chumps chasing them round. On Saturday it was a case of the reverse as, although I think that we are a bloody good team, we played like a bunch of chumps.
Following a magnificent display in midweek at Aston Villa, a one goal defeat to Ipswich illustrated how brutal a league the Championship can be.
The Tractor Boys were well on top in the first half and could have gone into the interval more than one goal up.Neil’s substitutions have in the main made a big difference to our points tally this season and have turned our fortunes around but they made no difference.It was the first time since his departure at the end of the January transfer window that I felt we missed Jordan Hugill as our attacking threat was easily nullified by the tall Ipswich defenders.
Things got that desperate in the final quarter that we had to play Paul Huntington up front as an emergency striker but the Cumbrian Cannavaro was unable to produce a piece of magic to change the outcome of the result.
It was a big disappointment to the 11,000 North End fans who braved the cold weather only to find little entertainment on the pitch to warm their hearts.
We have now only won three home games in our last 13 and while we remain unbeaten on the road since November and had only lost one match in 17 before Saturday, it is this home form which could ultimately cost us a chance of glory at the end of the season.
Let’s not beat about the bush, this was the worst home display of the season as the men in white failed to live up to levels seen recently against those at the top of the table.
Ipswich might well be seen as a mid-table outfit, but their wily old fox of a manager Mick McCarthy came with a game plan and with his team playing to their strengths.
By the end, it felt like they had won at a canter and could easily have added to their goal tally had it not been for an excellent stop by Declan Rudd and a bit of luck for another opportunity that should have been buried.
Whatever happened to the team that could, and probably should, have beaten both Wolves and Aston Villa in the past seven days is probably an indicator of just how much these players are overclocking themselves in order to keep up with powerful expensive squads of much greater depth.
Quite simply, they looked flat and exhausted to such an extent that Alex Neil made the unusual decision to make a double substitution before half time.
By that point the only goal of the game had been conceded following a mistake by Calum Woods that was compounded by his fellow defensive colleagues pushing forward to play the offside trap.
The resulting goal was inevitable as Calum was outnumbered two to one and the ball was put past Rudd into the net.
If the manager had hoped that the early replacements of Woods and Callum Robinson by the two Joshes, Harrop and Earl would gee things up a bit he was to be as disappointed as the rest of us in a very subdued and quiet crowd of under 12,000.
It had no real impact other than Earl did give us a little bit more creativity as the game agonisingly wore on to its inevitable conclusion. Definitely one to forget as we try to regroup and bounce back in time for next week’s Gentry Day trip to Bolton.