Exclusive Chris Maxwell Preston North End column: Midweek shoot-out was a lottery

Before the penalty shoot-out on Tuesday night I would have said I was a fan of them but I might change my mind now.

Thursday, 27th September 2018, 5:00 pm
Beaten by a penalty in the shoot-out against Middlesbrough in midweek

I think it was the first time I’d not managed to save a penalty in a shoot-out, which was a bit frustrating from my point of view.

I’m my own biggest critic and I went to sleep that night thinking, ‘If only I’d gone that way or done this’.

Then again, I’m a firm believer that if something is meant to be, it’s meant to be.

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Fair play to the lads from Middlesbrough, they took some excellent penalties.

Grant Leadbitter said later that in the build-up to the game, they had watched me facing penalties to see if there were any clues they could get.

It is a bit of cat and mouse and can be very much down to luck on the night.

We do our research on penalties before every game as part of our preparation.

But you tend to find that the quality of players in the Championship means they are able to change where they put them.

As a goalkeeper you just have to hope that you go the right way and get something on the ball.

I do enjoy shoot-outs but against Boro unfortunately it didn’t go our way.

Our display in that game I thought was excellent – to a man we were enthusiastic and the work ethic was high.

It took a wonder strike for Middlesbrough to get the draw and take it to penalties.

It was an open game and that can be the pattern of cup matches.

When you know penalties are coming up if it ends in a draw, both sides will try and nick a winner. We had a lot of chances, so did they, 
so myself and their keeper were busy.

Now we move on to face West Bromwich Albion on Saturday at Deepdale.

That will be a good test for us and a great game to play in.

We are at home in front of our fans, playing against a quality West Bromwich team with some top quality players.

Every player on our team will have to make sure they raise their game.

If we do the basics well, show the flair we did at times on Tuesday night and create some opportunities, I think we will be a tough ask for them.

One result could spark us into a run of form and there is no sense of panic from us.

Last season we had that really poor spell in October and November but we still ended up only two points outside the play-offs.

Every team goes through a rough patch – Fulham were down there early last season but got promoted.

We have got 37 games to play and I believe that things will even themselves out over the course of a season.

I’ve no worries about this group, the talent and work ethic is there.

We aren’t happy to be at the bottom of the table, let’s make that clear.

But the staff and players are working hard behind the scenes to get back to form.

At times we have been without players and it is not always about missing key lads – just losing that bit of competition if certain areas can have an adverse affect.

It’s been said a lot that we are quite a young squad and us experienced lads have to take it upon ourselves to help us get out of this.

The Middlesbrough cup tie was classed as my 200th senior appearance but I’m not sure about that.

It doesn’t include any of my games in the Conference, which is doing a disservice to that division.

It is a tough league to play in and gives you a very good grounding.

I gained lots of experience in the Conference and I look back on it as being a big part of my career.

The 200- game landmark is league and cup and it is great to have reached that.

But that is knocking a good few miles off the clock and I prefer to include all those games I played in the Conference.

I’d like to think that I can play until I’m 40. I’m 28 now so that would be another 12 years.

Beyond that, I would like to stay in the game and I’ve started my coaching badges.

Myself and a few of the lads here are doing our B’ Licence.

There are six or seven of us doing it and the sessions have been really interesting, making you realise how tough a manager’s job can be with picking the team and the tactics.

The badges are being done in-house, there is a guy called Neil Bailey from the PFA who comes in to do it.

Coaching is something I’m seriously thinking about after my playing career and to start that process early when you’ve got time on your side is ideal.