Preston North End finally put a stop to their losing run at Deepdale after picking up a point for the first time in six games. Luton Town will be wondering how they didn’t come away with all three after a dominant first half, and a red card for The Lilywhites who manage to grab a 1-1 draw.
A familiar story in the first half
Ryan Lowe made five changes after an inept display at Turf Moor at the weekend. Alvaro Fernandez and Brad Potts were called back in in the wing-back roles, a decision which was long overdue. We also saw Greg Cunningham replace Liam Lindsay in the heart of defence in a strange move. Ben Whiteman and Troy Parrott also returned to the fold.
It was a very nervous start from Preston though. There was clearly an emphasis on playing out from the back but they were so uneasy doing it. Freddie Woodman especially was hesitant with all his passes. The defence looked shaky and couldn’t make the most simple of passes.
We weren’t getting out of our half, and could have easily have been three down in the first 45 minutes. Alvaro Fernandez cleared a shot off the line from Jordan Clark, whilst Elijah Adebayo missed a glorious chance when one-on-one with Woodman, before Amari’ Bell dragged a shot wide.
Ryan Lowe sprinted down the tunnel at half time with Preston lucky to get in with the game still all square.
Whiteman sees red on his 100th PNE appearance
Ben Whiteman had hit the 100 game landmark against Luton but was to be heading for an early bath after just 50 minutes. It was the first 50-50 we had really gone for, after being second best for every duel in the first half. Whiteman was adjudged to have gone in with two feet and studs up on Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu. He got the ball and player but it was far from reckless. The Luton player made the most of it and the referee bought it.
It was Luton’s game to win, but down to 10 men we saw a lot more fight from Preston. It was a strange game, as we got into it a lot more from then on. Brad Potts coming off for Ben Woodburn was an interesting change, as I know who I’d rather go into this type of battle with.
Error from Woodman, but Parrott makes up for it
The Luton goal comes from a ball in from the left which takes a slight deflection off Alan Browne. It sends it further towards the back post but for some reason as the ball moves in the air, Freddie Woodman does a 360 degree turn, and then by the time he’s facing the right way again Carlton Morris has already headed it over the line. Very strange from the goalkeeper.
Luckily Preston didn’t give up and got a fortunate penalty when Troy Parrott thundered the ball against Tom Lockyer’s hand. The on loan Tottenham Hotspur striker picked the ball up himself and smashed it in off the underside off the crossbar.
A great moment for the 21-year-old who has had a difficult season with injury. This was his first start since September and with it came his first goal at Deepdale. He put in a good shift today and will be delighted to have rescued the point for us.
Superb display from Fernandez
In the team ahead of Robbie Brady for the rest of the season now for me. He gets us up the pitch, he has a bit of creativity, and his endeavour can seem him drive on the rest of the team. He was man of the match for me on Wednesday, although the sponsors choice Ali McCann did have a much needed improved game as well.
Although there wasn’t a great deal of it, the majority of our attacking play came through Alvaro, and he was key to intercepting and cutting out Luton moves too. Brady has been poor of late, and we just seem to rely on his set-piece delivery which isn’t even that great. Fernandez allows us to play a quicker game and he can do so much more on the ball.
The huddle at the end
At the end of the game Ryan Lowe gathered all the players and the coaching staff together in the middle of the pitch for a huddle. Obviously we don’t know what was said or the reason for it, but it seemed strange. This could have been done in the changing room. Did Lowe want the majority of the fans to leave before he headed down the tunnel?
It felt like it was a statement made for a point. Getting a point with 10 men is a good achievement but let’s not forget yet again, overall, it was another abysmal performance. A display that leaves absolutely no one counting down the days until they can come back. With quite a few more empty seats than usual, it looked like many had chosen to watch Arsenal v Manchester City instead of this game anyway.
This result hasn’t convinced any of the doubters. In the first half we looked leagues apart from The Hatters. There is still so much wrong with how we set up and attempt to play.
You’ve got to be happy with a point in the circumstances, but it doesn’t give me any hope for the next game.