Preston fan Tim Mercer's take on the loss to the Royals - Defence looked all at sea

While we are only two matches into the new season, this fan for one is already concerned by yet another woeful defensive display –  this time away to Reading in the Berkshire sunshine.

By Tim Mercer
Sunday, 15th August 2021, 3:00 pm

To put it simply it is not working and is certainly not up to the standard required at Championship level.

The back three looked short on confidence with the alarm bells ringing in the opening minutes when a Royals’ forward ran around the back of Liam Lindsay from a straightforward throw-in to go through on goal.

Luckily on that occasion the subsequent cross to an unmarked player was fluffed, but there was no doubt it was a let off.

Brad Potts is beaten to the ball in the penalty area

So it came as no surprise that another defensive slip, this time by Jordan Storey, let in the hosts for their opener.

The subsequent cross-come-shot was parried by Daniel Iversen into the path of Femi Azeez who danced around Andrew Hughes far too easily for his strike into the net from inside the six year box.

To be fair to North End, they did make more of a fist of it in the second half, winning a penalty converted by Daniel Johnson before conceding the winning goal only eight minutes later. A late rally saw the home keeper make two outstanding saves to secure the win for Reading, with all three Preston substitutions having a positive impact on the later stages of the game.

Yet again the two wing backs looked lost in their role, which seems particularly wasteful of the undoubted defensive prowess of Greg Cunningham when your defence is shipping goals so readily.

It was also surprising to see Patrick Bauer benched after getting the necessary minutes into him in the mid-week win away in the EFL cup. If the back three supporting two wing backs is going to work, it needs someone with the leadership qualities of Bauer to orchestrate it.

On Saturday the ship felt rudderless and ‘all at sea’.

With the midweek away trip to Huddersfield followed by the return of Darren Fergusson’s Peterborough to Deepdale next Saturday, a dramatic improvement is required quickly if we are not to run aground so soon after leaving port.

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