Preston North End fans’ panel: A day to forget at Derby County says Tim Mercer

Joe Rafferty in action with Derby County's Tom Lawrence
Joe Rafferty in action with Derby County's Tom Lawrence

Against a backdrop of rising expectation, this very disappointing trip into Derbyshire, was writ-large on the faces of my fellow fans by time the referee blew the final whistle.

The first half in particular was one to forget, as the tactic of using Jayden Stockley as a target man failed miserably and resulted in North End unable to either gain any kind of foothold or establish a pattern of play.

In fact, the only real surprise was that we made it to the break just one goal down and can probably thank Declan Rudd for at least two fine stops to keep it that way.

At least Alex Neil decided to do something about it during half-time, with Stockley and Darnell Fisher making way for Paul Gallagher and Billy Bodin.

The effect was immediate, with the visitors finally putting their hosts under some sustained pressure as passes and possession improved and gave us some hope.

Alas it was not enough, as Derby coped quite comfortably with our final ball and consequential lack of a real cutting edge.

And whilst we did get the ball in the net following a decently delivered corner, Tom Barkhuizen was clearly offside as he turned it over the line from a couple of yards out in a way that neatly summed up Preston’s overall performance in a match we will quickly want to forget.