A dazzling first-half display by North End didn’t quite prove enough to take all three points at the City Ground.
Leading 1-0 at the break through a Billy Bodin goal PNE absorbed plenty of second-half pressure but were only beaten once by an Adomah goal that looked to have more than a touch of offside about it. Preston’s play in that first 45 minutes was as good as we have seen this season with smart passing, good pressing and intelligent use of the ball particularly in midfield.
With seven players out through injury, four of whom would probably have started, North End were a little patched up. But such is current belief in the squad that it made little difference to the gameplan or to the performance.
The only slight criticism on the day was that we didn’t take our chances and score the second goal which would have almost certainly meant that all three points would have been ours on a day when our performance probably deserved that.
North End started to make some good chances, in particular form Bodin, Harrop and Johnson, and the home defence had Samba to thank for keeping the Lilywhites at bay. However he could do nothing after forty minutes after a scuffed Browne shot found its way to Bodin on the left of goal and the Welshman made no mistake in giving PNE a very much deserved half-time lead.
We had put a great deal of effort into that first half performance and it was probably reflected a little at the start of the second half as Forest came out and took the game to North End from the off.
However Browne, playing out of position at right-back, and Rafferty on the left doing the same, were keeping the Forest wide players at bay for most of the time although the imposing Patrick Bauer and the ever dependable Ben Davies were clearing anything that made its way into the North end box. Unfortunately, with 10 minutes to go, Forest found a way through as a ball down the middle found Adomah and he slotted past Rudd to put Forest level, albeit replays showing he looked clearly offside as the ball was played through.
After six straight league defeats on the road this was a welcome point for North End after an unwanted record that stretches back to the 2-1 win at Middlesbrough an March 13.
Nevertheless we played very well in the first half at Swansea so it is not like we have been continually poor on the road. I think they will be reasonably satisfied with the points total from this first group of matches as we now sit seventh in the table on goal difference.
It is, of course, very early days, however the return of Bodin and Harrop has no doubt improved the squad this season and the benefit of having those extra players available can be seen when injuries force the manager to make changes.
A good solid start then for North End and plenty to look forward to when battle recommences in two weeks’ time against Brentford at Deepdale.