Preston made it easier than it should have been for table-toppers West Bromwich Albion - Fan John Roper has his say on the defeat to the Baggies

Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say you were beaten by the better team on the night and whilst this is partially true of this game in the West Midlands there is no doubt that North End, collectively, were complicit in their own downfall.

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 11:45 am

Two well taken, but poorly defended, goals gave the Baggies a far easier evening than should have been the case with North End lying in sixth position in the Championship.

Add to this the dismissal of Darnell Fisher for a reckless challenge on Callum Robinson and it all adds up to a bad evening out for a North End side who played some good football at times but could not get close to breaking West Brom down.

A goal at either end of the first half was more than enough for the home side but North End may well be regretting not getting to the interval only one down and making a real go of it in the second half.

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Referee Kevin Friend sends Darnell Fisher off after his challenge on Callum Robinson

Alex Neil made three changes to the side that defeated Hull on Saturday with David Nugent, Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne coming in for Paul Gallagher, Josh Harrop and Scott Sinclair.

North End started well in the early stages but found themselves a goal down as early as the sixth minute when a peach of a ball from the left hand side found Robson-Kanu who was allowed to chest the ball down between two North End defenders and smash it home past the helpless Declan Rudd.

Poor defending by any standards and no wonder Rudd was angry as the ball hit the net.

To be fair to North End, we played some decent football across the park but apart from one good headed chance from David Nugent, we could not find a way through the Albion defence and when Jake Livermore score the second on the stroke of half-time you feared for North End.

It was another poor goal to concede with the ball being chested down again in the box for Livermore to score with a well-placed left foot shot.

At 1-0 down I thought North End were still in with a chance of getting something from the game but the second goal made it very difficult and probably made Alex Neil`s mind up not to make wholesale changes at the break and to try and contain the hosts.

North End fans were crying out for Jayden Stockley but he was not introduced until far too late in the the piece.

The sending off of Fisher just about sealed the deal for West Brom as North End tried in vain to get out of their own half and to put some pressure on the home defence but having to play 4-4-1 made us difficult to score against but ineffective in attack.

Rudd made two very good saves later in the game to spare North End from any further embarrassment and the introduction of Scott Sinclair, Jayden Stockley and Brad Potts late on was too little too late for North End and had no impact on the game whatsoever.

I am certainly not one who purports to the theory that this game was a free hit because up to the home side getting the second goal just before the break I thought we were still in the game and could come up with a positive second half plan.

I thought the manager was too conservative on the night and probably gave the Baggies too much respect, but if the changes for Saturday prove to be good ones and we can take something from the Fulham game then the means would probably justify the end.

It was a disappointing evening for the 925 North End fans who battled through traffic and very inclement weather to make this game so lets hope they are rewarded on Saturday on the banks of the River Thames when close on 2,000 will be there to give the boys a huge roar and plenty of support when they take to the field in a massive game at Craven Cottage.