The best Preston North End performance yet under Ryan Lowe, says Fans’ Panel’s John Roper

On a chilly January evening in Smethwick we may have just seen the signs of a new dawn as North End took all three points with a tremendous 2-0 victory over much-fancied West Brom.

By John Roper
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 8:00 am

Four days after a disappointing defeat at Swansea, Ryan Lowe had somehow managed to rally his troops, make them believe in themselves and eventually reduce the hosts to thumping long balls anywhere up the pitch.

Roared on by around a thousand fans, PNE showed what they can really do when they put their minds to it on an evening when The Hawthorns was barely a quarter full as the full-time whistle went.

A goal late on in the first half from Emil Riis, followed by a debut goal from Cameron Archer, saw North End toddle up the M6 feeling rather pleased with themselves after this comprehensive victory at the home of a team who were fancied for automatic promotion before the season started.

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Emil Riis celebrates after scoring the opening goal

North End made three changes from the team beaten at Swansea on Saturday with Andrew Hughes, Ryan Ledson and Brad Potts coming in for Daniel Johnson, Tom Barkhuizen and Joe Rafferty.

The boys started well with Hughes heading just wide early on.

On the quarter-hour North End looked to have won a penalty when Riis went down but referee Stroud waived play on.

Another chance for Riis which he put over the bar but it was Preston who looked the more likely as the Baggies really struggled to construct a meaningful effort on goal.

They did have one half chance but good tracking back by Ledson saw the ball fly way over the bar.

With forty one minutes on the clock North End deservedly took the lead when a cross from Cunningham on the left was deflected by a defender leaving Riis to knock the ball home at the far post and sent North End into the break one up.

No changes for North End at the start of the second half as Ryan Lowe’s boys firstly looked to consolidate their lead.

The home side probably had their best spell of the game in the first 10 minutes of the second half but having said that they did not manage a meaningful shot on goal in the whole of the 90 minutes.

North End were holding their shape superbly as the frustration grew inside the stadium with the home fans venting their anger.

With 25 minutes left Cameron Archer made his North End debut, replacing Riis, and it took the young Villan just 10 minutes to score his first goal.

A Cunningham shot was saved by Button in the home goal only for the ball to loop up nicely for Archer, who gleefully headed home from close range.

The Baggies tried to rally but it was North End who looked the most likely to score again on an evening in the West Midlands when it all came right on the night.

The result is a massive boost for Ryan Lowe and the boys after a disappointing four game run without a win.

This was undoubtedly the best performance under the new manager and just as pleasing as the win was the fact we kept a clean sheet to boot against a team unbeaten at home all season.

It had been almost 49 years since goals from Mel Holden and Alex Bruce secured Bobby Charlton’s Preston North End our last win at The Hawthorns, when we beat newly relegated West Brom by two goals to nil in September 1973.

I don’t think I have ever seen the famous old Hawthorns as quiet as it was during this game and North End must take great credit for that, along with the superb support who encouraged the boys from the first whistle to the last on an evening when the boys in yellow and green certainly put the pride back in Proud Preston.