Tim Mercer’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Solid defence is the key

Supporters pictured before the Brentford match
Supporters pictured before the Brentford match

Not a match that will live in this fan’s memory for long still saw North End finishing it with a comfortable win.

Pity, as the first 10 minutes or so promised much more, with flowing and attacking football from Preston, resulting in a Sean Maguire goal from the pressure of a number of corners and associated wing play. After this, well it all seemed to slow down in the early Autumn sunshine with Preston looking happy to sit back a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, Brentford did have a go and probably should have equalised before the break when a simple through ball put one of their forward players in with only Declan Rudd to beat.

Fortunately, a heavy touch saw the ball run through to Rudd and the moment had gone. There wasn’t much change after the half-time cuppa, despite promising build-up play by the visitors.

However, Preston rarely looked troubled by this and so it lacked any real bite.

This was rammed home as the final 20 minutes approached when Preston’s second goal was scored from close range by Tom Barkhuizen after he got onto the end of a quality cross by Darnell Fisher. As in the first period Brentford did occasionally threaten, but the combination of a solid back four and a couple of decent saves by Rudd kept them at bay.

The centre-half combination of Patrick Bauer and Ben Davies is working well and Joe Rafferty continues to stand in at left-back, looking assured and calm despite being out of position and playing at a higher level than he is used to.

Davies in particular seems to have gained the most by Bauer being brought to the club in the summer and the two look like they’ve been together for significantly more games than the seven league matches to date. Four home wins out of four keeps this early run going and provides a decent platform to build on in the next phase of the long and unforgiving Championship season.