RAMBLE: Preston North End .v. Wednesday

RAMBLE: Preston North End .v. Wednesday

New Years Eve away at Preston. What a treat!

In truth, I was really looking forward to my first visit to Deepdale. Every time we’ve been away at Preston over recent years there has always been a reason that I’ve not been able to make it, last year it was a wedding and in the end I probably had the better day. This year though I’d finally managed to get a ticket to one of the elusive grounds that I needed to tick off; I now only have QPR, Villa and Norwich’s stadiums to visit in the Championship and I’ll be able to visit Loftus Road and Villa Park this season.

After our fantastic victory up at Newcastle on Boxing Day most Wednesdayites were rightfully feeling confident of our chances of getting a positive result in Preston. I thought we had to be wary of them and make sure we worked hard again as they’re doing well this season, but saying that I was still optimistic and hopeful of finishing the year with a win. Just before kickoff, Huddersfield drew with Blackburn (narrowly avoiding defeat with a late equaliser) which meant that we had the chance to finish the year in 3rd place if we could get a victory.

There were rumours and mutterings in the build-up to the game that Forestieri wouldn’t be in the squad, many suggesting that his red cards in recent encounters with Preston would see him rested. When the team-sheets were announced, sure enough Forestieri’s name was absent from the squad and thus many people on social media went into meltdown. Whenever our number 45 doesn’t play we’re never the same team and he’s still our most exciting and reliable player. When the ball is at Fessi’s feet you just know he can create something or produce a bit of magic and when it isn’t at his feet he’ll be working extremely hard to get hold of it. Carlos has since said that Forestieri is injured and he’s hopeful that he’ll be fit for the Wolves game – whether he is injured or he was just rested, I hope we see him back in the team on Monday.


 

THE MATCH:

I remember thinking that we started the match fairly brightly and then we eased off and let them get a foothold in the game. There were a couple of well-worked moves but they came to nothing. Sitting here trying to think back now though, I can’t remember the positive starts to the game, what we did well or who was at the centre of it. It was a poor match for us.

Missing these three?

We lacked pace all over the pitch and we kept misplacing our passes. It’s hard to believe that it can all be down to the absence of just one player, no matter how influential they are.

Forestieri being out was obviously a huge loss but I definitely think that not having Kieran Lee and Gary Hooper in there made a difference too.

 

As the first half went on, there was a growing feeling of frustration in the away end. People clearly had high expectations after the result at St James’ Park but the players just looked tired and like a completely different side to the other night. It was obvious that we needed to try and change something but looking at our bench it was hard to see what we could do. In the end we were all desperate for the half-time whistle to go but it was disappointing that there were some boos ringing out from the away end.

At half-time a Preston supporter decided it’d be a good idea to get his girlfriend down onto the pitch and propose to her. I never, ever get this, why would you propose on the pitch at a football match? Surely you know you’re going to be greeted with boos and chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing!” ?

The teams emerged from the tunnel for the second half and as Wednesday came onto the pitch there was no Nuhiu in sight. This obviously satisfied a lot of the moaners around me, who did nothing but slate his every move. I was disappointed to see him being replaced by David Jones as this was surely a negative move. Perhaps Carlos felt the game was being lost in midfield and he wanted another body in there but I’d rather see Nuhiu keeping two or three men occupied further up the pitch.

The second half was even worse than the first. The moans and groans got louder, there were even people saying Carlos had no idea what he was doing. That really does baffle me, I can’t imagine they were saying that after Boxing Day. It was a shocking game of football today but people need to gain a bit of perspective at times. We’re sixth in the league, we had a chance to finish the year in 3rd today. Ok, we didn’t take it, but what a month we’ve had and most of it without our best player!

Best player on the pitch?

Best player on the pitch?

As the half went on, Preston’s pressure just kept increasing. We had a couple of counter-attacks but nothing that really caused them any trouble as we often misplaced our passes and just put the pressure back on ourselves. There were very few players that you could say were playing well out there – Bannan maybe, Hutch and Westwood and that was about it. Westwood was probably our best player and that tells you a lot. I didn’t think Palmer was doing too badly and so was disappointed to see him taken off for Hunt, to me it just seemed like we didn’t really know what to change so we opted for one of our only quick players on the bench.

Preston’s pressure kept mounting and they had the ball in the net twice before they were finally scored the goal that had been inevitable. It was at the opposite end to us and I couldn’t really see how it had managed to end up in the net – the Preston players went mental and celebrated for an eternity and the stadium announcer said it was Greg Cunningham but it turned out to be a Hutchinson own goal. He’s got a taste for goals now has Sammy!

1-0 to Preston.

Preston had thoroughly deserved the goal and it was so frustrating to see such a difference in performance from our last game. After the goal we struggled to get hold of the ball and Preston did their best to get the ball into the corners and waste time. Hundreds, if not thousands of Wednesdayites, clearly thought our chances of a goal were none as they decided to leave early.

We’d hardly had any chances all match and it seemed as though the game was almost over as Fletcher came the closest we’d come all day with an overhead kick from the edge of the box – it didn’t test the keeper. As we entered the final minute of the additional four, Bannan drove forward and wriggled past a couple of players before playing it to Hutchinson, Hutchinson played the ball across goal and a game of pinball broke out in the box. It came to Reach whose shot was blocked and the pinball fired around before falling to Reach again, he shot…

Reach that!

CHAOS!

The ball was in the back of the net from our first shot on target in the 94th minute!

1-1!

A few fans spilled onto the pitch and those of us that hadn’t left early couldn’t believe what we were seeing. We’d robbed them, completely stolen a point from Preston. Did we care? Not all! We held on for the final minute or so and that was that, a shocking performance and one to forget but the attitude and never-say-die commitment from these players had earnt us a point right at the death.

FULL TIME 1-1.


I want to make it clear that despite the point today we were awful. It’s still got to be said because there can be no excuses for that kind of performance. Credit to the players for stealing a point but we can’t put in performances like that again or we won’t get as lucky. Westwood kept us in it or that goal would have meant nothing at the end.

Reach out…

I’m pleased that Reach has got his first goal for us and I really hope that gives him a confidence boost as so far I’ve been really unimpressed by him. I think his performances recently have been ok, and that’s all. Ok. Today he was shocking. Really, really poor. He’s a Wednesday player and our most expensive transfer, so obviously I want him to do well but at the moment he wouldn’t be getting in my team. He’s too slow, both at thinking and at running.

I don’t want to just single Reach out, it was an overall bad performance today and one to forget about quickly. I hope this goal helps his Wednesday career blossom.

If we’re going to be doing any business in January then we need pace, we’re far too slow, too one dimensional and often have no plan B. We still just have a good side but suffer when players are injured, looking at our bench today there wasn’t anybody that you thought you could bring on and they’d change or have an influence on the game. Perhaps we could do with signing that number 14 that Preston had today, had a right game, McGeady I think he was called?

It’s been a really good December and a win today would have made it a brilliant moth but it wasn’t to be. Thankfully, despite the poor performance we were able to get a point.

We need to get behind the lads on Monday against Wolves and with a sell-out crowd we can really make that work to our advantage. The key is to not get on their backs if it isn’t going well though. The team want to do well, they don’t go out there and think we’ll not bother today, so let’s give them encouragement and support.

WAWAW?
Charlie Sharpe
EMail: admin@owlsalive.com
Twitter: @Owlsalive @THEsharpey

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