Tom Sandells’ big match verdict: It’s come good...that should be remembered for the next sticky patch

Once again we were treated to a very enjoyable 90 minutes at Deepdale on Saturday as PNE beat Swansea City 3-1.

Sunday, 29th August 2021, 10:09 am

The Lilywhites got it spot on, they bested the Swans for the vast majority of the game and got their just rewards.

They were up against a decent side, even if they’re not the same outfit as last season when they reached the play-off final.

They still possess proven quality at Championship level but they were simply not up to the mark compared to North End.

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Sepp van den Berg (left) after his equaliser

Preston scored three on the day but could easily have had more.

They were denied a penalty in the first half which looked like a definite spot-kick - and it could also have reduced the visitors to 10.

Emil Riis, having been felled, also had a chance later on in the first half going one on one with the keeper but he couldn’t convert.

Spare a thought too for Joe Rodwell-Grant living out he and every North Ender’s dream in coming on for his league debut. A PNE academy graduate that Frankie McAvoy looks to be giving a chance to prove his quality.

The recent results have been made all the more satisfying given the torrid start to the season. They were uninspiring, lacklustre and didn’t really look like winning games.

In their last three, there has only looked like there would be one winner.

To go from losing their first three league games to winning three in the space of seven days deserves credit, from McAvoy and his coaching staff right through to every player to have featured.

It’s easy to get in a rut. They stuck at it and have turned things around.

There were signs of improvement and the Huddersfield Town game had them as the better side, though they still lost.

The improvements were there to be seen and it’s come good. That should be remembered for the next sticky patch.

The PNE head coach says not to get too low when you lose and not to get too high when you win.

The former may have helped turned things around and the latter important now.

Everywhere on the pitch PNE were better than their opposite number and deserved their three points.

The defence looked solid again, if not a little slack to concede, the midfield ran the show and the forwards caused havoc. But in celebrating the wins we mustn’t get carried away.

These sorts of performances need to be remembered, they are the standard that needs to be met, it’s what they’re capable of.

That North End can turn around three defeats to string together the quality of performance shown means that faith must be put in those in charge.

McAvoy has now won 23 out of a possible 39 points on offer to him since being put in interim charge. It means they need to be supported the next time a bad patch comes around.

Also, they must be backed.

They have been unfortunate so far with injuries, Matt Olosunde and Izzy Brown not featuring.

There are still a couple of days left of the transfer window and work has to be done.

In the same way that three losses don’t make them a bad side, three wins also doesn’t make them a perfect side.

The same issues from the start of the season are there and investing can prevent them resurfacing as regularly.

It does grate with some PNE fans to hear that those behind the scenes are working hard and doing everything they can.

They are yet to see the fruits of that hard work in recent weeks but there is only so much they can do.

The next few days will show whether or not the hard work has paid off.

Do not think that all involved don’t want the best for the club, they are looking to improve the side.

It has to fit to what PNE are capable of and should also be an improvement on what they already have.

In certain areas that can be difficult to manage, and may also bring questions up of how to keep everyone happy in a tight-knit group.

It is done elsewhere though and so can be done at Deepdale, if new players buy into the club.

Watching the Lilywhites on Saturday it is hard to see why anyone would turn them down, it looked like a lot of fun to play in.

They started the game quickly, Emil Riis looking to get on to a through ball from strike partner Sean Maguire and he had strong claims for a penalty.

He got himself goal-side of Joel Latibeaudiere before the Dutchman felled North End’s top scorer – Thomas Bramall waved away the appeals.

After 19 minutes the ball was played into Liam Cullen on the edge of the box who clipped a first time pass around the corner for Joel Piroe to slot past Daniel Iversen, having run off the back of his man. A simple goal for the Swans.

North End were not for being behind, Sepp van den Berg equalising just two minutes later. A cross from the left found its way to the Dutchman who shifted the ball on to his right foot and drove it low into the far corner for his second goal in as many games.

Then Riis was clean through – he had plenty of time but not the best of angles, trying to slide the ball under the keeper to no avail. 

He would not be denied for long however, Josh Earl’s cross from the left collected by the 22-year-old who took a touch and slammed the ball past the Swans’ keeper.

PNE were straight back at it in the second 45, Riis chasing a pass in behind and beating Swansea keeper Steven Benda to the ball, he was brought down and the Dutchman only received a yellow card for the infringement. 

Whiteman made it count though, bending the free-kick into the bottom corner on the keeper’s side to put the Lilywhites into a 3-1 lead.

Academy graduate Joe Rodwell-Grant came on in the closing seconds to earn himself a league debut.