A day to forget as a much-changed Preston side fell at the first hurdle in this season’s FA Cup.
A total of nine changes from the team defeated at home in the previous league game almost matched the eight by Norwich as both sides sought to give some of their fringe players a chance to knock on their respective manager’s doors.
Boy did it work for the visitors, as their young academy product, Adam Idah, walked away with the matchball following a superb hat-trick on only his second appearance for the senior team.
By contrast, a series of mistakes saw North End three down by half-time and with the game effectively over.
At least the men in white gave it more of a go in the second period, pulling one back within three minutes of the restart with a Billy Bodin header, but it was not to be as City added a fourth (and Idah’s third) from the penalty spot, before Josh Harrop scored a late goal for the hosts. In search of mitigating circumstances,
I do not want to heap too much blame on keeper Connor Ripley for two of the goal-conceding errors. He’d already been let down within the opening two minutes by those in front of him, as Idah latched on to a defence-splitting pass and outpaced a sluggish-looking defence to slot home.
By time he’d let a quite speculative shot go under his body for the visitors’ second and, having made an initially very good stop, gifted a clearance to Idah for their third, he cut a sorry figure on one of the few occasions he has been given a start.
He picked himself up and made some important saves later and should not be blamed for conceding the penalty following a clearly offside Idah being allowed through on goal.
Of more concern was the lack of confidence shown by some of the players who have had far more game time than Ripley and who should have been all guns blazing to give Alex Neil a selection problem.