John Smith’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Crucial point picked up

Ref Andy Davies was my man of the match!
Ref Andy Davies was my man of the match!

Saturday’s game was far bigger than our midweek cup tie in terms of the club’s season, being one we could not afford to lose if we were to preserve our place in the play-off positions.

The “Boys from Brizzle” arrived at Deepdale unbeaten in their last seven league games, also having not lost on the road since April.

The millions they have spent this summer, mainly on Chelsea’s fringe players, meant that they provided a stern test for Alex Neil’s young side and personally I thought that on Saturday’s showing they looked a very strong and organised outfit in a league which is getting more competitive by the season.

We began quite well in the opening few minutes passing the ball with confidence but the visitors, who had not won any of their last dozen league games against North End, soon settled and went on to dominate the half scoring twice from two corners.

There were appeals for infringements on both, in particular the second when the cries from the Town End would have been clearly heard by people waiting for the Longridge bus at the top of Skeffington Road.

Despite not having had a shot on target we were handed a lifeline back into the game in first-half injury time when Paul Gallagher converted a penalty which lifted the spirit of the Deepdale faithful. Shortly after the interval a second converted penalty followed but then we conceded another poor goal from a free-kick to be left chasing the game again.

However, credit must be given to North End for fighting back again with a first league goal for new crowd favourite Patrick Bauer. After this we had our best attacking spell of the game which swung from end to end in the closing stages and could have ended up 4-3 to either side.

My man of the match would have to be the referee who in one way or another had some involvement in all six goals, also disallowing two further efforts from the away side.