Nearly 6,000 fans travelled to Deepdale on a very miserable day (it always rains near Manchester). Preston’s highest attendance for them since 2009 (over a quarter of them being our fans), just like the Mackems they’ve only come to see Newcastle.
Agreed meeting time for us was 8:30am, however that never materialised as this turned into meeting at 9:30, eating a McDonald’s breakfast and then to get some cans from the supermarket. So we set off a 1 hour 30 mins later than planned,we went straight to the ground to pick up a ticket which didn’t get delivered. We got in the ground with 40 minutes till kick off to see pretty much a free for all at the bar, waited 30 mins for not a pint but a bottle of fosters which wasn’t even that cold. Tip for Preston, don’t put only 4 bar staff on when Newcastle play you again, if we ever meet you in the cup.
Rafa made a customary handful of changes with 5 being made from the side that won so comfortable on Tuesday night. Mitroleading the line again in the absence of the injured Gayle. Lascelles and Clarke coming back in defence, Goufrann in for Atso to give Dummett cover at the back and Shelvey for Colback.
A very poor first half display in a very forgettable first half. A much changed Preston side to the one on Tuesday night pressed us quite high in the first half and did not allow our midfield especially Shelvey any space. Mitro was not looking as lively as he did Tuesday night and hold up play was poor, however he was very isolated. I thought Diame was even poorer, not getting close enough to Mitro or anticipate any flicks on which he won. Our only real chance to note was Richie’s tame effort which their keeper caught very easily. I would say this was the worst half I’ve seen us play since Fulham on the opening game of the season. Preston’s biggest threat was set pieces, as it has been all season and they put a number of excellent deliveries in to our box which we dealt with quite well, however a corner from the left midway through the first half caused us to panic and resulted in Lascelles to smash the ball into the air which was very well dealt with by Dummet heading the ball to safety.
We didn’t help ourselves as we did give a number of needless free kicks away in our half. Ref I thought was very poor first half, least Moyes was right about something last week.
Preston never capitalised on first half pressure and if they were to score, you would think it had to have been then as you knew this pressing play could not continue and they would tire.
Second half was much different to the first and a lot more entertaining. Preston started the better team
and gallagher brought a superb save from darlow who tipped it round for a corner. It took till around the 55th minute to give us fans something to shout about as Richie dropped it to Mitro but only for him to fire it wide. 5 minutes later however they combined again, Richie picked up the ball and played a fantastic lofted pass to which their defender could not quite reach and could only edge it into the path of Mitro who controlled it with his chest and slotted into the bottom corner which caused mayhem in the crowd, ‘ Mitro’s on fire, your defence is terrified’. It didn’t take long for us to double the lead as 10 minutes later, Yedlin’s cross was met by Mitro, whose header was fumbled by their keeper (they should have played the keeper from Tuesday) and then for Mitro to double foot the ball over the line from 2 yards out. 2-0 game over, that’s we thought, like many times this season we thought that was it and we would see out the game comfortably. Right on the 90th minute Preston got in behind Yedlin and they had time and space to drive the ball into 6 yard box to be met by Jermain Beckford to hit it past Darlow. Immediately after the fourth official announced 6 minutes added time which was not music to our ears.
This brought a very unpleasant and nervy final moments to which it was all backs to the wall. The clock was 4:58pm and one final attack by Preston with seconds remaining, they delivered a ball in from the right into the box to which the ball was bouncing around till their player attempted an overhead kick, it looked for a moment it was heading in the corner only for it to hit the post and go out for a goal kick, this was followed by the final whistle, we’d hung on! Another 3 points.
I would say it’s the first time this season we won a game which we didn’t really deserve to win. We can’t smash teams every week and this was a real test against a tough Preston side butwe’ve overcome it. Whats even better we won this game without our top goalscorer and our best this player Shelvey having a relatively quiet game compared to his usual high standard performances this season. Also results went our way today with Norwich and Huddersfield both getting smashed away from home which leaves a nice 6 point gap, 7 considering our goal difference. This puts us in a very good position heading into November!
Atmosphere overall was really good. A bit flat at times first half which reflected what was happening on the pitch. Similar to Barnsley, the atmosphere pre match on the concourse didn’t make into the stands, maybe they were checking how many likes or retweets they were getting for uploading their videos of themselves singing. 2nd half atmosphere was class after we scored, much of it aimed towards Mitro who was MOTM.
MARC COWLEY – FOLLOW MARC ON @cowleymarc
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