Tim Mercer’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: It all came down to fine margins

A narrow and frustrating loss in the first game of the season played as a ‘home’ match before the empty seats of Deepdale.
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Yet again, the matchday ritual of pie and pint had to be swapped for the far inferior iFollow diet in the eerie atmosphere of ‘behind closed doors’ that this fan is still not-so accustomed to. In part,

I blame this for my exaggerated sense of disappointment at this narrow loss to a side still a-brim with Premier League parachute money.

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In truth there was very little between the two sides by time the referee signalled the end of the match, but boy oh boy, what effect those fine margins can have in this league. Preston started the match brightly enough without ever really threatening too much.

Ben Pearson under pressure from Swansea City’s Morgan Gibbs-WhiteBen Pearson under pressure from Swansea City’s Morgan Gibbs-White
Ben Pearson under pressure from Swansea City’s Morgan Gibbs-White

There was simply a lack of creativity in the final third.

The visitors did not look much better but did get more into the game as the half wore on and, perhaps tellingly, did create more dangerous-looking chances than their hosts.

One of these was stopped by an excellent last-ditch block by Jordan Storey.

The second period started from where the first left off, but with Swansea starting to look more threatening from surging runs down the wing.

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And sure enough it wasn’t long before the dangerous looking Jake Bidwell, having already had a goal disallowed for offside, burst down North End’s left wing and put a peach of a ball across into the ‘zone of uncertainty’ for debutant Morgan Gibbs-White to connect with and score.

This prompted Alex Neil into a double substitution in a bid to put more firepower up front, with Jayden Stockley and Sean Maguire replacing Billy Bodin and Scott Sinclair.

Whilst Preston looked more dangerous and created a couple of half-decent chances, there just wasn’t enough there to go on and get something out of the game.

Let’s hope this does not turn into a mantra as the season takes shape.