John Smith’s PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: Plenty of fight in injury-hit squad

Preston North End's Tom Barkuizen battles with Nottingham Forest's Jack Robinson
Preston North End's Tom Barkuizen battles with Nottingham Forest's Jack Robinson

The performance at Forest resembled one of last season’s defensive rearguard ones in which we ground out a result and also put last week’s dismal display at Birmingham to bed.

When the teams were announced we were put on a ‘Rudd Alert’ as the manager kept faith with his shot-
stopper, labelled as a ‘calamity keeper’ in one of last weekend’s national tabloids.

We had no need to worry though as there were no further catastrophes to endure and the rejuvenated Declan Rudd was leaping around like a salmon in the second half when he superbly tipped over a goalbound effort to preserve our slender lead.

In the first half, Forest played some of the best football I have seen at this level this season, breaking fast and pinging the ball around well.

However they were contained by some valiant and at times heroic defending by Tom Clarke in particular, who in my opinion just edged out Ben Davies and Paul Huntington for the man of the match.

As the cold rain came down at the City Ground we were in need of a pick-me-up as the second half began.

A wee dram to warm our hearts up would not be sniffed at but when ours arrived it did not come in the form of a single Scottish malt whisky but a different kind of Moult, as King Louis further cemented his coronation with his won-over fans by scoring a poacher’s goal to put us in the lead.

The goal was celebrated with much exuberance by both players and fans alike and although there was still work to be done, in general we managed the second 
half better than the first.

The game for me illustrated that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog as our injury-hit squad saw out the game to claim a vital three points.