Tim Mercer’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: An unwanted record avoided

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Avoiding an unwanted club league record of six consecutive defeats at home was this fan’s main concern as the game kicked off.

To get a narrow win against 10-men Wednesday was a relief and one I would have gladly taken at the start.

In truth, we looked quite comfortable by the end, albeit with some defensive frailties still being exposed on a couple of occasions that could have easily seen a different outcome.

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One of these happened in the first half and before the early Josh Windass sending off when old boy Adam Reach fired wide from an unmarked run into the six-yard area following a corner.

Tom Barkhuizen after missing a chance late in the gameTom Barkhuizen after missing a chance late in the game
Tom Barkhuizen after missing a chance late in the game

In some quarters the high knee into the face of Joe Rafferty was classed as more of a yellow rather than a straight red.

I changed my mind after seeing the replays and realising Rafferty was lucky to avoid a serious head injury.

Rather than give North End an advantage, the visiting new manager changed formation and in true Tony Pulis style parked men behind the ball in a defensive move that rendered any attacking play ineffective.

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Cue Alex Neil making two substitutions at half time by bringing on Jayden Stockley to support Emil Riis up front in a two-pronged attack and with full-back Joe Rafferty making way for the midfield passing ability of Paul Gallagher to reduce a back four to three supported by wing-backs.

It had a positive effect, resulting in the Lilywhites getting their just reward with a lovely Tom Barkhuizen volley from just inside the box following a non-too-convincing punched clearance from the Owls’ keeper.

It’s never nice being only one goal to the good and Preston can count themselves unlucky in not being given a stonewall penalty shortly after the sending off when Scott Sinclair was clearly clipped in the penalty area as he jinked around a defender.

Maybe the referee felt he had been a little harsh with the red and he let it go.