Tim Mercer's fans' panel verdict: A glimpse of Preston North End's future?

The season, rounded off in style with this victory over play-off chasing Middlesbrough, had me pondering over manager Ryan Lowe’s early interviews on his appointment midway through the season.

By Tim Mercer
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 12:30 pm

For me this was first time the Lilywhites fully embraced the kind of attacking football he promised to bring to Deepdale and it brushed Boro to one side in the early May sunshine.

Combined with a significant ‘early bird’ discount on season tickets (the best deal this fan can remember), it offers hope for the season to come, with summer recruitment being the next critical factor.

As for the match itself, apart from early in the second half when a headed goal got the visitors back into the game to reduce North End’s 2-0 half-time advantage, it felt quite comfortable and with the final 4-1 score a fair reflection of the game.

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Bambo Diaby in action with Middlesbrough’s Duncan Watmore

Was this because Preston had nothing to play for and so relaxed and allowed themselves the space to try and implement Lowe’s style?

To be frank, I don’t know the answer to that question, but simply hope this is the shape of things to come.

To top it all, we finally have a striker at Championship level who has hit the 20-goal mark.

Denied a hat-trick by the stats dictators due to his first-half strike going down as a Middlesbrough own goal, Emil Riis scored two second-half goals with aplomb, the first of these a lovely chip over the keeper from a fine Cameron Archer through ball, and the second an emphatic penalty conversion awarded for a Boro player handling on the line.

The inevitable red card and reduction to 10 men was late enough in the game to have little bearing on the final result, with the Riis goals adding to the opener scored by Alan Brown before the break; it being a superb hooked shot from a Brad Potts cross.

With the game comfortably won, Lowe had an easy decision to make in bringing on Paul Huntington for one last ‘hoorah’. The Cumbrian Cannavaro got a heartfelt standing ovation in recognition of his 10-year, 300-plus match service and of course for scoring the second goal at Wembley on that glorious warm day back in May 2015.