Preston North End verdict - It's was so different and yet so similar as North End lost to Blackpool again at Bloomfield Road

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
For the second time in two seasons, Preston North End fans were left embarrassed as they left Bloomfield Road on Saturday.

Their side were again beaten at the other end of the M55, although this was a much different game.

Last season’s 2-0 loss was very much a non-event from a PNE point of view, their side did not turn up in even the most generous of descriptions and the home side did not have to get out of second gear.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This time around, the Seasiders did have to get out of second gear but could only manage that in the final 20 minutes of the game, thanks to what was a good showing from PNE.

A dejected Preston North End's Ched Evans at the final whistle.A dejected Preston North End's Ched Evans at the final whistle.
A dejected Preston North End's Ched Evans at the final whistle.

They went behind against the run of play, a poor goal to concede and one that really should not have gone in. Liam Bridcutt was down injured and subsequently substituted. There was a stoppage whilst the midfielder received treatment and trudged off the pitch.

However long that took, it was enough for North End to switch off. The resulting free kick, which brought about the break in play for Bridcutt to leave the game, saw Gary Madine head the ball on and Jerry Yates finish the job. It was lax at best.

Madine was always going to be the target on set pieces and Yates, a man in form, was in the right place at the right time to nod it home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was Blackpool’s first shot on target and come out of nothing, despite having much the better of the game PNE found themselves behind and with it all to do in the lion’s den.

However, nothing changed. They kept at it, they didn’t let the goal impact them and they kept their control of proceedings.

Emil Riis, who was a real problem throughout the whole of the first half in particular, won a penalty after getting the better of Marvin Ekpiteta and Ben Whiteman stepped up to slot it down the middle.

But still, nothing changed. PNE were still in control, they were still the better side on the day but they could not find a clear breakthrough in open play.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It proved to be their undoing as Charlie Patino brought the ball forward in the second half and drove it into the bottom corner. Again, a moment out of nothing and the home side again had the lead.

It was a sucker punch for PNE and this time, things changed. Passes that previously were finding their mark were no longer, 50/50’s that the visitors had been dominating started going the other way and neat passes in tight areas began to be under hit as the nerves kicked in and the confidence dissipated.

This was the point that Blackpool got out of second gear, but it was more that they were allowed to shift. North End had previously limited them and imposed themselves on the game but the second goal took the wind out of their sails and the third sunk their ship entirely.

Yates stole a yard on his marker and glanced a header beyond Freddie Woodman, who otherwise had not really been tested.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ched Evans’ header came off Callum Connolly and into the Blackpool net with just minutes remaining but with PNE in the final seconds of the game, Woodman came forward for a corner only to be caught out and CJ Hamilton finished off the scoring on the break.

Last season’s game quickly became stale, PNE stunk the place out and Blackpool were happy for them to do so. They managed the game well and scored a couple of goals. This time around PNE did turn up, they did start on the front foot, they looked like the side, if any, that would go on to win it.

Ryan Lowe made a big call in leaving out senior players such as captain Alan Browne and Robbie Brady but Ali McCann and Ben Woodburn were excellent in the no,10 positions, particularly the latter.

North End were boosted by the return of Liam Lindsay and a change to their defence in the end seemed to be their undoing. Greg Cunningham had to go off after 65 minutes, meaning Lindsay switched to left centre back rather than down the middle, it helped Blackpool grow into the game after having a job done on them in the first hour of the game.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But PNE did play well. It is so strange that, having got beat 4-2, you can say that the losing side played well, but they did. Blackpool had so little in the game but for a 20 minute spell at the end and it came with them having the lead, which put an end to PNE’s hopes.

Not for the first time this season, Preston were the masters of their own downfall. They had the game in the palm of their hand, they were on top, they were getting forward, but they could not make it pay.

Their lack of goals is terribly worrying. Whiteman spoke passionately after the game about North End needing to kill games off, Lowe spoke post match about needing some help in January to get PNE into the top six that he wants them to be in.

But that is some time off, they have to find a solution now. Of course there were failings in the summer, it was noted at the time, but that changes nothing now.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Time and time again we will see PNE be on top this season and not finish games off. It has happened already and will do again.

These last two derby games at Bloomfield Road have been so different and yet so similar. One a poor performance, a defeat and calls for change. This time a good performance, a defeat and class for change all the same.

The fans meanwhile will be the laughing stocks in West Lancashire for the next six months until PNE have the chance to put it right and by losing the first derby, there is once again enormous pressure on the game in PR1.