PNE 1, Leeds United 4: Dave Seddon’s big match verdict

Preston North End's Marnick Vermijl and his team-mates look dejected after shipping four against Leeds
Preston North End's Marnick Vermijl and his team-mates look dejected after shipping four against Leeds
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Jermaine Beckford has no doubt been scrubbed off the Christmas card list of many Preston North End supporters after his Boxing Day red card against Leeds on Monday afternoon.

This was another occasion when the PNE striker could not keep his temper in check and again it proved costly.

Dismissed at Sheffield Wednesday three weeks ago for fighting with team-mate Eoin Doyle, his indiscretion this time involved an opposition player – the Leeds centre-half Kyle Bartley.

After getting a knee in the back from Bartley as he jumped for a high ball in a three-way dual which also involved Luke Ayling, Beckford kicked-out after landing on the turf.

It caught Bartley in the face and with it happening slap bang in front of fourth official Ben Toner, the punishment was inevitable.

Beckford had only been on the pitch three minutes when it all went off – this his first game back after the suspension incurred for the red card at Hillsborough.

He had joined the action in a double change as North End chased a way back in the game.

They were 3-1 down at the time, all four goals squeezed into a 14-minute spell in the first half.

No one has a crystal ball and could claim with any certainty that keeping 11 players on the pitch would have seen PNE chip away at the deficit.

But it would have given them far more of a chance to play with level numbers.

As it was, Beckford took with him to his early bath any genuine hope of getting something out of the contest.

Leeds went on to score a fourth goal to put a layer of gloss on the win which perhaps gave the scoreline a slightly unbalanced appearance in light of how the game had panned out.

Granted, North End were not great on the day, but neither were the visitors better by a three-goal margin.

What next for Beckford then? First of all, he has a four-match ban to serve.

That rules him out of the games with Sheffield Wednesday, Burton, Arsenal and Brighton.

So from December 3 through to January 14, he will have been on the pitch for a little more than three minutes.

The hero status deservedly earned in the promotion run-in and at Wembley, is quickly eroding away with sections of the Lilywhites faithful.

They pay good money to see players put in a decent shift, not petulance on this scale.

Simon Grayson’s reaction to this latest misdemeanour was not as strong as it was in the aftermath of events at Sheffield Wednesday.

The Preston manager was to point out that initially, Beckford was sinned against by reason of the knee in the back from Bartley.

Looking at the replay, Grayson had a point – it being a bit of a naughty one.

But he then had to admit that the kick-out was unacceptable and the red card from referee Jeremy Simpson was the correct course of action.

Whether those above him will see it in quite the same way, I’m not 100% sure.

Beckford was facing his old club in Leeds, it being the Yorkshire side who gave him his chance in the professional game.

Their travelling 5,551 fans cheered him on to the pitch when he joined the action.

It is fair to say that the PNE supporters did not do likewise when the striker left in the direction of the tunnel.

So this was anything but a Christmas cracker from a PNE perspective.

They were unable to produce the type of football which had brought them seven points from the previous three matches.

For the opening 15 minutes, both sides rather cancelled eadch other out.

They played similar systems, Preston lining-up in a 4-1-4-1 and Leeds 4-2-3-1.

Marnick Vermijl in for the injured Aiden McGeady, was the one Preston change to the side which beat Bristol City nine days earlier.

Leeds went in front in the 17th minute, winning a debatable free-kick down PNE’s left side.

Stuart Dallas delivered it deep to the far post, Pontus Jansson headed it back across goal for Kemar ROOFE to nod it from close range.

It was an advantage stretched six minutes later, Hado SACKO exchanging passes with Roofe to get in behind the Preston defence and fire into the roof of the net.

The deficit was halved in the 27th minute, Alan Browne’s play-off to VERMIJL dispatched low and hard into the net.

Leeds quickly restored their two-goal cushion, Souleymane DOUKARA coming inside off the left-wing and beating Chris Maxwell at his near post.

After the shenanigans with Beckford, Leeds got their fourth close to the end, sub Pablo Hernandez running through to shoot past Maxwell.