Preston North End FANS’ PANEL: This could be a long, hard season says John Smith

Ben Pearson and Millwall's Aiden O'Brien
Ben Pearson and Millwall's Aiden O'Brien

Following a series of sedate local summer friendlies it was time for the real stuff with London calling for the Preston fans.

Opening games of the season are normally closely contested affairs and this one was no different between two evenly matched teams.

With Millwall having only lost their opening game once in the last five seasons, unlike some optimistic fans before the game I felt this could be a difficult one for us to win.

Just short of six months ago a brutal display had virtually dismantled the home side before half-time, a performance which was recalled by a local I was chatting to before the kick off.

His prediction that Saturday’s game would not as he put it be such a ‘Glenn Hoddle’ (doddle) sadly came true in what became a frustrating afternoon for the large away following.

We started well in the opening minutes played at a high tempo having plenty of possession and playing some neat passing football, with Alan Browne looking destined to be toasted once again in the Baluga Bar until his effort was headed off the line. However after the home side took the lead shortly after the half-hour mark we posed no real attacking threat to the home goal and failed to register another shot on target for the rest of the game.

In my opinion we have looked lightweight up front ever since the sale of Jordan Hugill, although this was offset by the improvement and development of Callum Robinson and a slightly altered style of play. However now he has 
departed, the lack of creativity in attack needed to win matches – particularly evident towards the end of last season – stood out like a sore thumb once again at Millwall. There is no doubt in my mind that in Alex Neil 
we have one of the best managers seen at the club in recent times and we have a good group of hardworking young players.

But the problem Saturday was so did the home side, as will most sides in this league – particularly some of the divisions big hitters.

We did as my local friend would say make an ‘Oliver Twist’ (fist) of it in the second half as we had the majority of the possession but could not unlock a 
resolute Millwall defence to earn a ‘Denis Law’ (draw) which would have made the long journey up the M1 a pleasant one instead of 
having the feeling we could be in for a long hard 
season.