Preston fan John Roper has his say on Reading defeat - We made an average team look good

Defeat for a second successive league game for North End and another performance which can best be described as patchy.

By John Roper
Sunday, 15th August 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th August 2021, 1:14 pm

A poor first half saw North End struggle to keep their shape defensively in a game that was crying out for some leadership on the field particularly in the defensive third.

Add to this a midfield that tried to close Reading but apart from the occasional moment from Daniel Johnson, offered very little.

Up front the movement was poor and neither Emil Riis nor Scott Sinclair looked sharp enough to trouble the Royals' defence.

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Andrew Hughes, Alan Browne and Jordan Storey deep in conversation

No surprise then that we went in a goal down at the break. In the second half things improved, marginally, and when Johnson made the score level just after the hour mark it looked like we were back in the game.

However, we only stayed level for eight minutes and although we had our best spell of the game in the last 15 minutes it wasn’t enough to salvage a point from a very disappointing afternoon.

Boss Frankie McAvoy made four changes to the side humiliated by Hull City last weekend with Daniel Iversen, Sepp van den Berg, Johnson and Sinclair coming into the starting line up. It took the game a while to settle down but it was Van den Berg who came to the visitors’ rescue with a super block to save what looked a certain goal.

North End looked all over the place at the back with Liam Lindsay, Jordan Storey and Andrew Hughes struggling to keep their shape and to keep the Royals at bay. Reading’s pressure eventually paid off when a shot from the left was palmed away by Iversen only for the ball to fall to Azeez who eventually scrambled the ball home.

It was no more than the home side deserved as we looked very out of sorts and the players frustration was there for all to see. North End never really looked liked troubling the scorers and were possibly a shade fortunate to only be one down at the break.

No changes for North End at the break and surely the second half could not be as bad as the first. It didn’t start well with Reading almost going 2-0 up when Joao hit the post and the ball flashed across the goal.

However, North End did get level after 61 minutes when an Alan Browne shot was clearly handled in the box and Daniel Johnson stayed as cool as a cucumber to slot the ball home past the Reading keeper.

Brad Potts came on to replace Sinclair but just eight minutes later Reading were back in the lead again when a shot from Jonathan Swift hit Iversen’s right hand post and when into the net to secure the three points.

Ben Whiteman and Sean Maguire were introduced late on and to be fair to North End, Rafael in the home goal made two outstanding saves late on in the game and North End could almost consider themselves unlucky not to have snatched a point right at the death.

Not a good week, then, in terms of league results and two poor performances to boot. Down in Berkshire we looked distant from each other in the first half of the game and with no disrespect to Reading they were not the strongest Royals outfit we have played over the last decade.

In fact one comment at half time really summed it up for me and that was we were making a very average team look good. Obviously people will look to apportion blame for the situation the club finds itself in and although it is very early days in this campaign I feel that people’s frustration with the way the club is going is beginning to boil over.

Most of the post match comment I heard was aimed higher up the ladder than the dressing room. It’s time for calm heads all round as North End face a very important seven days with a trip to Huddersfield on Tuesday evening and a visit by Peterborough next Saturday.

North End must win one of those two games if the atmosphere is not to intensify around the club.

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