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

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

By Tim Mercer
Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 12:30 pm

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.

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.

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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.

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.