Tim Mercer’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Honours deservedly even in hotly-contested game

Joe Rafferty deserves a mention for his stint as stand-in left-back
Joe Rafferty deserves a mention for his stint as stand-in left-back

An open match played more like a cup tie resulted in a six-goal thriller.

Disappointingly for the Lilywhites all three goals against were conceded from set-pieces.

Complaints about fouls in the build-up to both Bristol City goals fell on deaf ears.

I have to say the referee made some very strange decisions throughout, but at least spread them evenly by time he blew the final whistle.

Having gone in for their Bovril with a penalty despatched by Paul Gallagher to pull the deficit back to a single goal, Preston started the second half well and equalised with another penalty following a handball from a Sean Maguire cross.

This time Daniel Johnson stepped up to the spot and lashed the ball home to draw the scores level. Play continued to swing from end to end as both sides had chances to take the initiative.

However, it was the Robins who got their noses (or should that be beaks) in front for a second time as the defence failed to deal with a Josh Brownhill free-kick and allowed the ball to fall nicely for a shot that went under Declan Rudd’s body and into the net. Alex Neil made a double substitution shortly after that, including David Nugent making his long-awaited hero’s return.

Whilst he couldn’t cap it off with a goal there were signs that a fully match-fit Nugent will cause problems for defences, as he made some runs filled with the kind of guile we’ve been missing up top.

Instead it was left for our German rock, Patrick Bauer, to rise like the proverbial salmon and head in the equaliser.

Later replays showed he may have kept himself in the air a tad longer than natural with the aid of his opponent’s shoulders, but this simply evened up 90 minutes of odd-ball decisions.

Despite the draw we move onwards to Boro in an optimistic frame of mind. Also a special mention for Joe Rafferty, who continues to fill-in at left-back in an impressive manner.