Town 1-0 PNE
A much more solid performance than the Fulham game. Nicholls made his league debut in for Schofield, Lees made his debut in for Pearson who was taken ill just before kick-off, O’Brien in for Holmes and High for Vallejo. Nicholls, Lees, Sarr, Colwill, Turton, High, Hogg, O’Brien, Thomas, Koroma, Ward. There was little in the way of chances in the game for Town and it was evident that 2 teams were on show that had had a difficult start to the season. For us emphasis was on defence and to not make any mistakes. The only one of any note was by Colwill early in the game which against anotehr side may well have cost us. Unlike Fulham the Preston shots at goal were usually off target. Preston did have the majority of possession particularly in the first half, they kept possession in increasing dangerous areas but could not fashion much of an opportunity. The only one of note being in the first half which Sarr cleared up near to the goal line. This was a match which could easily have been 1-0 the other way round, it is a long time since I can say that we have won a match that we did not necessarily deserve to, hopefully this the start of something good.
Finally a keeper who marshalls his defence. You could hear him shouting at the players in front of him and organisng what was happening. He commanded his area, taking pressure off the defence in catching corners. A vast improvement from what we have seen over recent years. He did have a little wobble right at the death when all the nerves were high but came through unscathed. Clearly showed to be an experienced keeper and his defence looked to have confidence in him.
A steady debut from Lees who came off after 76 minutes to be replaced by Vallejo presumably due to fitness. Lees looked comfortable not hurriedly flapping and looking to find his man with measured passes. His experience at this level should serve us well.
Looked a different player than on Saturday. He wasn’t put under the same pressure as Fulham did and he defended well against a big Preston side. I still question his slow distribution and why he has to stand next to the keeper at dead balls but a much better performance.
Made a mistake in the first 10 minutes when as the last line tried to go past his man, fortunately cover dropped back but it appeared to unsettle him for a bit. A good performance once he settled down.
Was busy across the defensive areas. As Captain I would like to see him working the team more and taking them up the pitch a little. One point in the second half when still at 0-0 he dropped back at a set play to mark one Preston player along with 3 defenders. If we want to win games we have to be more positive and Hoggy should be a driving force.
Back in the side after impressing from the bench on Saturday. We saw glimpses of his vision and range of passing. High looks like he could develop into quite a player. He pulled wide on the right a lot in the first half which stretched Preston but should have been used more by the defence to move the ball down the pitch. He drifted inside as teh game went on which gave Turton more space.
O’Briens presence in the side gave everyone a lift. He lloked a little of the oace by his standards and as expected did not see out the 90 minutes. Lewis is more affective when playing further forward in the middle but as Preston pressed he along with everyone else dropped back. It was good to have him back and he did produce some of his usually moves but it was a muted performance.
Was kept busy defensively in the first half, as the second progressed with High tucking inside Turton did venture down the right more to offer something further down the pitch. I like the fact that he goes down the outside of the full back rather than cutting inside and making the pitch smaller but I feel he is more comfortable as a full back rather than right wing back/winger. Steady performance and settling in well.
Again Thomas was our one bright spark in attack. His one thought when he gets the ball is to attack the man infront of him. There are elements of his game which he needs to develop but I like the positive nature of his play and he mixes it well with his physicality. It will be interesting to see how he fits in with Toffolo in due course.
Again I’m not sure what instructions Josh is going out with. He drops back and tries to drive forward. Git on the ball more than the Fulham game but seams wasted in the middle where he can’t get the ball out of his feet and needs to play much wider or closer to the front man with balls delivered quicker.
His return really has not worked. In and out of the side last year but he has started the last 2 and not offered us anything. He is not a player to win the ball in the air or break through the last line of defence so when left on his own upfront he needs players around him and nobody is getting anywhere near. Whilst this continues we will not get anything out of Danny.
Came on for Ward at half time who was taken ill. Again he struggled to get much action in key areas due to a lack of support but did get himself involved and coursed more of a nuisance to Preston
Holmes and Vallejo were later substitutions. The one occasion where a midfielder, Holmes, made a run beyond the front man resulted in the goal. Van Den Berg putting through his own net n preventing Holmes with the clear opening.
The team were set up to not make a mistake and let Preston in and to that aim we achieved what we wanted. Getting the 3 points being the icing on the cake. Yes we were fortunate and against better opposition we could get taken apart but we have to take confidence from this into the next game. 4 points from 9 is not a bad return.
The O’Brien saga (does he stay, does he go) needs to be settled. If we had gone behind I don’t feel that we had it in us to change the course of the match. We need to move the ball quicker in attack, get support around the front man and have midfield runners. At present there are little options to the man on the ball and so it becomes easy to defend against. I don’t think it helps that we play from the back at each goal kick as we do not have the quality/belief to break through the lines and just end up putting pressure on ourselves.
In this game we git what we wanted to cannot be faulted too severely.