Drab derby game will not stay long in the memory - Preston fan John Roper has his say on draw with Blackburn

Tom Barkhuizen challenges for the ball with Blackburn's Bradley Johnson
Tom Barkhuizen challenges for the ball with Blackburn's Bradley Johnson

This was not one of those derby games which people will be talking about in 100 years.

In fact based the general level of mediocrity shown I doubt very much if it will be being talked about in 100 hours time.

North End and Rovers served up some really average stuff in front of the 19,963 inside Ewood Park, 6,276 of which were located in the away end.

Two goals in the first 17 minutes was as good as it got really in a game that Rovers clearly looked the better side before the break with North End upping their game and their efforts somewhat in the second half.

Both sides appeared to run out of steam early in the second period but from our perspective I find it worrying that we really didn’t get out of second gear all afternoon.

Rovers scored first through Adam Armstrong aided by a misplaced Tom Clarke pass and some poor defending, only for North End to level after 16 minutes with a superb half volley from Josh Harrop after a header down from Joe Rafferty.

All the talk before the game was about Scott Sinclair but with the lad not having played much football recently Alex Neil resisted the temptation to throw him straight in and he had to settle for a place on the bench.

Within three minutes Rovers were in the lead when a cross field pass from Clarke went woefully astray and Armstrong went down the left hand side and cut into the box.

It looked like the chance had gone but a ricochet from two North End defenders left the ball right at Armstrong’s feet and he made no mistake giving the home side the lead.

North End responded and just past the quarter hour mark a Paul Gallagher free kick was nodded down by Rafferty right into the path of Harrop who made no mistake with a rasper of a shot that gave Christian Walton no chance.

Rovers looked the more likely after the North End goal but lost Corry Evans with a head injury and North End went in at the break slightly relieved to be on level terms after a considerbly lack lustre first half performance.

I’m sure Neil gave the boys a piece of his mind at half-time as they had not done themselves justice in front of another huge away following. North End did look better in the second period with Rovers slowing down a little after all the chasing and closing down that they had done in the first period.

Play got lost in the middle of the park far too often, for both teams in fact, and when we got into the final third we just could make the telling pass of play the killer ball.

Alan Browne looked tired, Gally only influenced in patches and Harrop and Tom Barkhuizen had run themselves to standstill chasing back and trying to close Rovers down.

We did look better when Jayden Stockley came on for at least we had some presence against the Rovers centre halves which we had not had up to this point.

The game got a little stretched in the final quarter and the biggest roar of the afternoon came when Sinclair enter proceedings with just 10 minutes left on the clock.

Declan Rudd made a spectacular save late on but in all honesty neither team deserved to win and my guess is that Neil will be the happier of the two managers.

A disappointing spectacle, then, but at least it was another point away and a glance at the league table will tell you that there was not too much damage done.

Just how North End re-energise themselves must be the hot topic at Springfields this week and although the signing of Sinclair has given the club a real lift we really have to start winning again if we want to stay in the play off race.

Several players looked tired long before the end of the game and one or two looked completely burnt out.

Whether there are anymore new faces to come in remains to be seen but on the evidence of Saturday and the two league games previous to this we do need a freshening up of things otherwise it will be also rans for another year.

All is not lost yet and a win can give the squad a massive boost, I just hope it comes next Saturday at Deepdale when Charlton Athletic are the visitors.