Preston North End Fans’ Panel: John Smith hails gritty performance

Alex Neil identified his mistakes and put them right
Alex Neil identified his mistakes and put them right

Since losing the first game against our “friends” from East Lancashire after the league rivalries were renewed in 2015 after a 14 year absence, we had gone on to win four and draw the other of our last five meetings.

Prior to the game Alex Neil had spoke of how he understood about the importance of workplace bragging rights, which looked like they could be heading back over to the Blackburn side of the fence at half-time.

If Neil used a Winston Churchill-type speech to galvanize his flagging troops during the break whatever he said certainly worked, as the second half was a completely different affair.

Although we had our backs to the wall our performance was far more gritty and full of Dunkirk spirit as we attacked from the off. Once Tom Barkhuizen had pulled a goal back it was our fans who made the louder noise and the decibels went up another few notches when Daniel Johnsons penalty levelled the game up.

When Barkhuizen completed the stunning second-half comeback with a classy strike by firing into the top corner from 25 yards I was so excited that I leapt out of my seat and, in the manner of Churchie the old bulldog insurance mascot, boomed out a gravel voiced “Ohh Yes”.

Credit must be given to Alex Neil for using his tactical nous in changing things around and after going more direct at our opponents following the introduction of Jayden Stockley we found a way back into the game with the second half being mainly all one-way traffic.

Credit must also be given to our fans who roared the team on to another memorable derby win despite being behind for a long period of the game.

The three points put PNE in the lofty position of second in the table and also extended “the gap” over their local rivals to 10 points which means the Preston fans at the workplaces and pubs will be the ones smiling for the immediate future.