Tim Mercer's PNE Fans' Panel verdict: Some positives to take despite the result

So a new season rolled down the short length of track from Preston to Wigan, but in July?

By Tim Mercer
Sunday, 31st July 2022, 10:56 am
Updated Sunday, 31st July 2022, 10:56 am

I must confess to double checking my calendar a few times to just make sure the Qatar World Cup debacle had really led to this...the only July games in living memory in the English Football League.

Having sold out our allocation, a little under 5,000 fans poured into the away end to create a wall of yellow colour and noise.

What a pity then to see a disappointing game overall that either side could have won if they had only taken their chances.

Alvaro Fernandez showed promise on his PNE debut

In particular, two clear-cut opportunities for Preston went begging in first-half stoppage time that would have changed the game. The first, from debutant and on-loan Tottenham striker Troy Parrott, saw him put through on goal with only the keeper to beat by a fine incisive pass from Emil Riis.

His shot was too close to the home stopper, who parried it into the path of Riis for the follow up that should have been buried deep in the onion bag as we all leapt up, ready to celebrate.

Instead, the keeper recovered to get some part of his body to the strike that sent it over the bar.

This was probably North End’s best phase of the game, having survived some scares in the opening 20 minutes or so by a home team determined to show their fans they would not be yo-yo-ing between the divisions for a third time on the trot.

The second half commenced with Wigan again edging it, but not with any real threat or menace as the game settled into the typical rough and tumble so often seen in the Championship.

In an attempt to change this, Ryan Lowe brought on Ben Woodburn and Alvaro Fernandez for their debuts.

He also brought on Ched Evans in his usual role of disruptor up top that was unfortunately taken too far on this occasion, by Evans receiving a straight red just a few minutes later for a very late challenge on an already grounded opponent.

Yes, it was dangerous and deserved, but it must be stated that there did not appear to be any malice it. This killed the game from a Preston point of view, as the last 10 minutes or so consisted of brave defending to keep hold of an away point and the press for a winner from the home side.

Upon reflection, and the sense of frustration from those fans around me as we walked back along the canal to the train station, this fan can still take some positives away.

The young and, let’s not forget, inexperienced loanees of Fernandez, Parrott and Woodburn did not look out of place and will adapt and grow at this level as the season progresses.

For me, Fernandez has an excellent touch and good eye that needs some anticipation from his more senior team-mates if we are to take advantage of his service.

Parrott did get himself into good positions and on another day could easily have scored, with signs of a fledging partnership emerging between him and Riis.

Woodburn looked solid and should be a good option as he also adjusts to his new team and no doubt different style than he is used to in the unforgiving Championship.

So we move onto the next match for our first of the season at Deepdale. Let’s hope we have news of one or two more signings before then and at least it will be in August!