Tim Mercer's PNE Fans' Panel Verdict: Crowe not the only culprit
In truth a poor performance that does nothing for the morale of all associated with the club,this being the fourth defeat in the last five matches.
From the off, there just didn’t seem to be any zip in this continuing patched-up side – a situation that will hopefully ease in the next few games. As the three new signings were all cup-tied, it was a least good to see some of the walking wounded returning to the bench, with Alex Neil making only two changes to the team by resting Tom Clarke and keeper Declan Rudd, who were replaced by Darnel Fisher and reserve goalie Michael Crowe. Matters were not helped by conceding an early goal, as a good ball down the visitors’ right wing left Preston scrambling in vain to cover it and with the consequence of an unchallenged cross and simple header into the net. Doncaster always looked threatening with quick breakaways whilst the hosts appeared to labour, despite getting in a number of ineffective crosses. It was clearly not working and so it came as no surprise that Neil brought on Alan Browne as a half-time substitute in order to inject some purpose into North End’s play. For a while this happened and Preston got back into the game with an Andrew Hughes headed goal direct from a corner. However, an unusually shaky defence continued to make errors and really the visitors should have had another two goals before they did get their second and then third in the last phase of the match. Not a day I have to say that Crowe will want to remember, as he did not appear to command his area in this his first outing for the senior team. Having said that, he was not the only culprit as some poor decisions and inadequate back-passes added to the overall woe. The biggest cheer was reserved for the return of Sean Maguire, albeit too late from the bench to have any real impact, and we will all be keeping our fingers crossed that he can stay fit and make a real contribution in the remainder of this season.