EXCLUSIVE Sean Gregan Preston North End column: Playing with 10 men is a tough task
Any away game is tough but to play with 10 men for more than an hour was clearly hard work for Preston North End at Sheffield Wednesday.
Ben Pearson’s red card left them a man down and it was a case of trying to hold out for a point after that.
Once Wednesday scored, North End then had to try and find a way of getting an equaliser with the numerical disadvantage.
That is difficult, the other team having that extra man to fill gaps and give cover. Teams will work on 11 v 10 situations in training, mainly from a defensive point of view – keeping solid, two banks of four and getting people behind the ball.
But when you do let a goal in and have to go and chase the game, it’s difficult with 10 men.
We could discuss the red card for Pearson until the cows come home and still not everyone would agree.
It is a grey area when it comes to the follow-through with a tackle.
When I played it used to be a case of taking the man and the ball.
Nowadays that is frowned upon.
With Pearson’s red card we are not talking about a two-footed lunge from the word go.
He went with the right foot which got the ball, it’s how the left foot came on the follow-through which has led to the sending-off.
If Pearson had gone in two-footed from the off, he could have no complaints about the red card.
However, it is physically impossible not to have some kind of follow-through, you cannot stop your body weight.
Whether an appeal would be successful, I don’t know.
Tackling is becoming a dying art and at this rate we will see football become a non-contact sport. Defeat for North End at Hillsborough was only their second in 13 games, which isn’t a bad record.
What they need to do now is use the Christmas games to bounce back.
They play Hull City and Aston Villa at Deepdale and four points from those two wouldn’t be a bad return.
Neither game will be easy, Hull have put together a nice run of form, and Villa have been good since Dean Smith took the job there.
It was Villa away which started Preston’s good run, the 3-3 draw ending a run of defeats
That result also got Steve Bruce the sack, so it was a big night for a few reasons. For the players, these next few days will be like any other working week.
There is still the chance to spend some quality time with the family.
But it’s an important spell and the focus will be on the games and recovering the right way in between.
Different managers have different approaches to what players do on Christmas Day.
Some teams will train in the morning, others will come in later to make sure they haven’t over-indulged.
There will be teams who don’t train at all, others will be in a hotel overnight.
I did them all over the years and it is part and parcel of the job.