John Smith’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: My players of the last decade

Cardiff City's Neil Etheridge collects from a PNE corner
Cardiff City's Neil Etheridge collects from a PNE corner

Following a “Mad Friday” it was an early morning Saturday for the dedicated band of away fans who made the long journey down to South Wales for the lunch time kick-off in the Principality.

Cardiff lying in 12th place before the game were just three points off a play-off place, having shown strong home form throughout the season and on paper the game looked to be a tough ask for Alex Neil’s side.

In the first half we looked very comfortable and we were well on top against a team who last season plied their trade in the Premiership. We had much the better of the play going forward but a Sean Maguire effort was the only shot on target for both sides before the interval. However the “Irish Costa” did hit the side netting twice and also just pulled the ball wide of the post after being put through with a peach of a ball from my man of the match Ben Pearson who was inspirational in helping us to control the midfield.

The second half saw us continue to press and control the game and it seemed the home side were not going to have a “Nadolig Llawen” but we were going to have a very merry one in the last game before the festivities.

However we could not break them down as we failed for the sixth consecutive away game to find the net in open play, with the only goal in these matches coming from a Paul Gallagher penalty at Charlton.

As the decade comes to its close Gallagher, who like a fine wine seems to improve with age, would get my vote for ‘Player of the Twenty Tens’ as he was inspirational in getting us out of the dark depths of League One and has been a key figure in our remarkable progress at this level.

He would be closely followed by fellow veterans Paul Huntington and Tom Clarke who have both recently returned to the side .

The man “who put the ball in the Blackpool net” deserves a special for his toils at Cardiff as it was his first start since August.

The defensive pair along with the ever reliable Patrick Bauer and ex-Cardiff youth Andrew Hughes were all outstanding.