John Roper’s PNE Fans’ Panel: The bigger picture is looking bright

PNE boss Alex Neil makes a point to the fourth official
PNE boss Alex Neil makes a point to the fourth official

From a Preston perspective it could be argued that the win against Norwich on Wednesday evening had taken a lot out of the players and that the extra oomph that North End needed just wasn’t there on the day.

As for the visitors from Nottingham I thought they were mediocre at best and although they had some spells in the game when they had more of the ball I thought that they were generally below what I expected from their squad of players.

North End defended well throughout the 90 minutes without making too many chances at the other end. But it’s the big picture that people need to focus on and North End’s unbeaten run continues.

PNE started with the same XI that started in midweek, which was surprising as the manager had intimated he might have to shuffle the pack as there were a few tired legs in the dressing room.

We started the game playing 4-1-4-1 with Pearson playing behind the midfield and Maguire ploughing a very difficult furrow up front on his own.

North End started the brighter but Forest had clearly come to close us down and stop us playing and to all intents and purposes they did that very well.

It was the visitors who had the ball in the net but the goal was ruled offside.

The game was stuck in midfield for long periods and even before the half-time whistle had arrived the look of the game had all the makings of a goal-less encounter.

Alex Neil brought Jayden Stockley on at the start of the second half in place of Gallagher and moved Maguire out to the right-hand side.

It seemed to work a little better as Stockley put more pressure on the two Forest centre-backs who had continually been fouling Maguire in the first half.

Preston had a chance early in the second half but Potts volleyed over the bar as the crowd of 13,904 sighed and the game fell back into its pattern of being a midfield battle. Potts had another half-chance but his volley hit the Forest keeper and the chance was gone.

Neil tried to freshen it up again with Johnson and Nmecha coming on for Maguire and Barkhuizen.

But it was of little consequence as the game fizzled out into its inevitable conclusiond. On the face of it a home draw is usually a disappointing result and I thought both teams played way below their potential and capabilities. T

he expectation is much more on Forest than North End but the fact that most home fans were slightly disasppointed with the results means that the expectations at Deepdale are growing by the week and that can only be a good thing for the club.

The result has to be taken in the context of the bigger picture and this result means 15 points from the last seven games which is still promotion form. Four wins and three draws is a good return in any football book.

If PNE can have a good week on the training ground and get back to the level of play they showed on Wednesday evening then we must be favourites for a result in the capital next Saturday.