Tim Mercer’s Preston North End fans’ panel verdict: Hopeful signs for next season

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At last a win in our final home game of the season.

Not since beating Hull, 10 long games ago, have we bagged all three points back on home soil.

With Cardiff winning elsewhere this ended our play-off hopes for another season; with just the final match now in Bristol midweek.

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To be honest I’d given up hope a few games ago, as it was clear that only slip-ups by our rivals were keeping us in the chase for the last coveted spot.

Brad Potts looks much more like the player we hoped he would becomeBrad Potts looks much more like the player we hoped he would become
Brad Potts looks much more like the player we hoped he would become

So, what positives can this fan take away from another disappointing season that promised so much more back in November when going briefly top of the pile?

Well, in the last three games we have played much better, in no small part due to 
players on the fringe 
coming back into the team and back into form.

For me, the stand-out in this regard is Brad Potts, who now looks like the same player that scored away at Stoke 
just after we signed him a year and a half ago.

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Ryan Ledson is also looking good and more at home in the Championship and Joe 
Rafferty must count himself unlucky after a sterling fill-in role on the wrong side of fullback whilst Andrew Hughes was out injured for most of the first half of the season.

I’m particularly impressed with Rafferty’s set-piece deliveries, as this wasn’t so apparent when playing out 
of position and with Paul
Gallagher still being a mainstay at that point.

It is also nice to see Jordan Storey back in the side and I feel sure that this promising youngster can only improve in the years to come.

Although not as effective as in the previous few games, Jayden Stockley was still 
a handful for the Birmingham defence and seems to be another in this bunch 
of newer signings finding his feet.

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For the record, 
North End deserved to win this match, as the visitors never really seemed to push for a victory despite being 
in the lower reaches of the table and still not out of the 
relegation woods.

The opening goal from Patrick Bauer came late in the first half when the ball landed at his feet from a corner.

The second, towards the end of the match, was from a much more emphatic Brad Potts surge through the Blues 
defence before he slotted the ball home into the far corner of the net.

A man on form that we must hope he takes on, and into, next season.