Tim Mercer’s PNE Fans’ Panel: It’s starting to get interesting

Jayden Stockley had Preston's best chance of the first half
Jayden Stockley had Preston's best chance of the first half

I had to take my time and reflect on whether this was a point gained or two dropped, on a freezing night within the confines of Deepdale, as the Frank Lampard Derby roadshow rolled into town.

I certainly felt disappointed at the final whistle, but with mixed feelings as to why. In the end it would be fair to say it is two dropped, as North End continued their dominance of recent games with a settled starting 11.

Particularly pleasing is the fact that this run includes players from the January signings who are improving week-on-week as they gel.

On this occasion, none more so than Brad Potts, who relished his role when switched to a central midfield position for the second half and caused real problems for the County defence. The first half saw the hosts make a strong start with some decent chances created but not taken.

The best of these probably fell to Jayden Stockley who, with the goal at his mercy, was not able to get his foot over the ball from a neat headed knock-down in the box.

However, towards the end of the period, the visitors showed they have some real class and looked like they may go on and run away with the game. Preston survived until the break, following which Alex Neil made the tactical switch with Paul Gallagher exchanging positions with Potts.

It worked a treat as we dominated the second half and were unlucky not to score at least a couple of times, one being a Gallagher strike saved by the keeper from a lovely Sean Maguire cross and the other being a header over the bar by Maguire.

The later of these would almost certainly been converted into a goal if left for the waiting Stockley or Alan Browne. Overall not bad to be downhearted compared to a few weeks ago when an injury-ravaged squad had to rely on kids from the youth team making up the matchday squad.

A win at Bolton next week would engender real belief that a late run could yet turn this into an interesting season.