Tim Mercer’s PNE Fans’ Panel verdict: Defenders need to be honest with themselves

What a bitterly disappointing return to Deepdale this turned out to be on the day we, the fans, were finally allowed back into our near-sacred citadel.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 12:30 pm

The build-up, the pie and peas and a pint with your mates all went according to plan.

The new fan zone got rocking and Paul Gallagher was given a guard of honour in the moments before kick-off in recognition of his outstanding contribution on the pitch now that he has moved on to the coaching set-up.

The script continued up to the eigh-minute point of the match, when a peach of a cross by Tom Barkhuizen found Emil Riis at the far post to slide home for the opener.

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Ched Evans battles with Hull City’s Alfie Jones

Oh how we’d forgot just how good that feels, as the stadium erupted as one in wild celebration.

But football can be a cruel game, and by the end a 4-1 thrashing sent the few of us left in the stadium drudging home, tail firmly between our legs.

So, what went wrong?

Those opening 10 minutes or so gave no hint to the remaining 80 of what, apart from another brief spell at the start of the second half, saw Hull dominate the game. To be blunt, the visitors looked comfortable and will probably not experience an easier away win all season.

As for North End, the back three quickly became a back five as the Tigers quickly got to grips with our formation after conceding that early goal.

Forcing our wing-backs into a ridiculous ‘line of five’ gave the visitors acres of space to move forward at will and meant the equaliser before half time came as no surprise.

The inevitable double substitution and change to a flat back four did gain some traction before Hull took the lead, albeit with a double deflection that wrong footed Daniel Iversen between the sticks.

The last two goals were, frankly, shocking and I’m afraid the left-sided pair at the back will need to be honest with themselves as they watch back the post-match analysis at Euxton come Monday.