Making Preston North End start was worth waiting for says Joe Rafferty

Joe Rafferty prepares to take a throw-in during Preston's defeat at Wigan on Easter Monday
Joe Rafferty prepares to take a throw-in during Preston's defeat at Wigan on Easter Monday

Joe Rafferty is pleased to have finally been handed a start in the Preston team after his long wait on the bench.

The right-back started PNE’s two Easter games which saw them have contrasting fortunes – they beat Ipswich 4-0 and lost 2-0 at Wigan.

Before that, Rafferty had got on the pitch just twice as a substitute since January’s move from Rochdale.

“I’ve had to be patient,” said the 25-year-old.

“When I came in, the boys had just started an unbeaten run and stayed on it for a long time.

“As much it was frustrating not playing, it was great to see the boys winning.

“When my chance came I was made up and hopefully I can go on to play in the last two games of the season.

“I had a bit of a taste of it when I came on a substitute in the games at Blackburn and Middlesbrough.

“But I want to be starting every game, I have done that throughout my career so far and I want to play as much football as I can.”

North End play their last home game of the campaign on Saturday when they host Sheffield Wednesday.

Then they round things off with a visit to Brentford the following Sunday.

Said Rafferty: “We want to bounce back from the Wigan game and do well in the last two games.

“Sheffield Wednesday are just ahead of us in the table and might still have a chance of the play-offs.

“We’ve got to go for the win against them and if we play well we are capable of beating anyone.

“We are working towards next season and want to finish this one strongly.”

Rafferty’s chance in the starting XI has come about due to circumstances on the other side of the pitch. PNE boss Alex Neil took Josh Earl out of the firing line after a tough run of games.

Earl had been playing in place of Andrew Hughes who has a hamstring tendon injury and will not play again this term. Neil moved 
Darnell Fisher from right-back to left-back, giving 
Rafferty a chance to start.

Friday’s win over Ipswich saw things go to plan but the Wigan defeat was not a happy afternoon in the PNE camp.

They lost Ryan Ledson to a first-half red card for a high challenge on Kal Naismith.

Rafferty said: “People will probably look at the incident and say ‘Yes, it was a sending off’.

“But on the pitch you could see that he slipped and made things a lot worse.

“The referee didn’t see it that way, so what can you do?

“I thought we gave it a good go with 10 men.

“The manager didn’t 
really want us to change when we had 10 men in the hope we could get a goal back.”