Fans’ Panel verdict – John Roper: Good to see players fighting for a place in Preston North End team
Preston romped into round two of the Carabao Cup with an emphatic 4-0 defeat of Bradford City at Valley Parade.
We will have few games as comfortable as this in the Championship this season but in spite of the level of the opposition great credit must go to the players who pulled the shirt on at Bradford.
Every man on the pitch looked to be fighting for a place in the first team and looking to attract the attention of manager Alex Neil and to try and get themselves in his thoughts for the tough league game at Swansea on Saturday afternoon.
Many will have done their cause no harm at all after another solid team performance just three days after comprehensively beating Wigan at home on Saturday.
North End were two up at half- time through Andre Green and Tom Barkhuizen and added two more in the second period with Barkhuizen, again, and Josh Harrop completing the misery for the Bantams in front of a crowd of 3,456 in West Yorkshire.
It was a completely different starting eleven to the side that beat Wigan on Saturday and this particular North End side looked full of running and full of energy right from the first whistle.
In fact they had far too much for the home side who looked a beaten outfit long before the end and must be glad that they are not playing Alex Neil’s men every week.
Preston kicked off playing away from the travelling 917 who had made the hour long journey and it wasn’t long before the onion bag was rattling.
A peach of a ball from the right by skipper Tom Clarke found Green ghosting in at inside-left to classically knock the ball past the Bradford keeper and put North End one up.
It wasn’t long before Preston had a second when a lovely through ball from Ryan Ledson found Barkhuizen and the ex-Morecambe man made no mistake knocking the ball past the keeper from about ten yards out.
North End continued to apply the pressure and Bradford were really struggling to make any impact in the game as North End looked to sew the game up as soon as possible.
Immediately after the break the home side had their best spell of the game and a deflected effort bounced of the crossbar with the second half just a few minutes old.
It seemed to sting North End back into action and in the 53rd minute the game was over.
Man of the match Barkhuizen intercepted a pass across the back of the Bradford line and sneaked in to slide the ball under the keeper and give PNE an unassailable 3-0 lead with 35 minutes still to go.
Harrop was introduced and made an immediate impact receiving the ball on the left and cutting across the box to see a heavily deflected shot loop over the keeper and make it four for North End.
The was just time for young Ethan Walker to make his Preston debut and round off a thoroughly successful evening for all at Deepdale.
Well done to the boys and their reward for this victory is a home tie against Hull City at Deepdale in Round Two.