PNE Fans’ Panel’s Tim Mercer left frustrated by opening game of 2021

A frustrating start to the New Year saw North End go down to a narrow defeat to relegation-threatened Forest.

By Tim Mercer
Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 12:30 pm

In truth, there was not much between the sides come the full-time whistle, but it was the visitors who walked away with an important win in their bid to pull away from the bottom three.

In terms of chances created, it was the Lilywhites who edged it, with two good opportunities crashing against the bar in the second half and two more saved.

However, all this means ‘nowt’ if you don’t actually score, as we failed to do on a snow-cleared pitch inside Deepdale.

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Ryan Ledson with Lewis Grabban

Let’s be honest, the first half was pretty dire.

All square and with no goals on the scoresheet pretty much summed up an opening 45 that needed to be forgotten as quickly as possible as we all headed for our half-time refreshment away from the iFollow coverage.

All this fan can say is that thank goodness I had a few drams left in my Christmas hamper to ease the pain.

Preston played better in the second half and were taking the game to Forest in a manner that showed some real purpose and one that gave hope for a fourth consecutive victory and further ascendency up the table.

Alas, a handball by Darnell Fisher in the 70th minute gave the opportunity for Lewis Grabben to score from the spot, albeit in controversial circumstances.

For starters, the handball was easy to miss in real time and could easily have been interpreted as accidental, with Fisher ending up blocking a goal-bound shot with his arm when going down to the ground in a challenge.

Up stepped Grabban, who then slipped on his standing foot in a move that, at the very least, sent Declan Rudd the wrong way.

Whether it hit his foot for a ‘double-touch’ or not, it signalled the end of any good fortune for Preston whose two bar-rattling incidents occurred either side of this defining moment.