Tim Mercer’s PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: Blackburn derby could get ugly

Paul Gallagher battles with  Bristol City's Jack Hunt
Paul Gallagher battles with Bristol City's Jack Hunt

A tough game this one, with two evenly matched teams cancelling each other out all over the pitch.

In terms of spectacle … well it was a tough watch too, with space closed down by both sides resulting in bouts of head tennis at various points throughout the 90 minutes.

The frustration for us, as North Enders, was the inevitable sense of an opportunity lost, having got our noses in front and with all the other matches in the play-off fight going our way.

That lead was down to a bit of enterprise from a Paul Gallagher free-kick picking out Daniel Johnson with a pass along the deck when all were expecting the usual curled cross.

Johnson took it well with his favoured left foot to send us all into the break with hope in our hearts as we scrutinised the other half-time scores.

We made a reasonable start to the second period, but then Bristol made a couple of substitutions and started breaking forward with pace. A few scares later and they got back into the game with a close-range strike following a corner.

From my good stand-point at that end of the pitch I didn’t think anything of it in terms of offside and neither did any of those around me.

So, it was a bit of a surprise to hear of a ‘missed offside’ later on, which video footage appeared to confirm. With the Lilywhites playing catch-up, a win away at Blackburn next week is now more essential if we are to keep the hunt for a top-six finish alive. Special mentions for Andrew Hughes, for me the man of the match, and for a class Declan Rudd save late on that would otherwise of put the visitors 2-1 up.

Hughes is proving to be a bargain buy and is now clearly comfortable at this level.

Also, good to see Ryan Ledson get a full game in the absence of the suspended Ben Pearson. He will be an important player against Blackburn this 
coming Saturday in what I predict will be a bit of an ugly scrap.