Tuesday night saw Preston North End lose a tight game 1-0 to Watford. After a stoic first half defensive display, The Hornets got the goal from the penalty spot after a Tom Barkhuizen foul. It was the 7th penalty North End had conceded in the league this season.
In the 19/20 season, Preston benefited from penalty decisions themselves with Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher regularly finding the back of the net from 12 yards.
10 out of 11 penalties were scored last season (more than any other team in the Championship), and on two occasions they scored from the spot twice in one game; Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol City at home.
This season Alex Neil’s side have only won five penalties but have conceded seven already. Six of those have been scored with Lucas Joao the only one not to take advantage. Four of those have come since the turn of the year, and both Watford and Blackburn Rovers have benefited from two penalties each.
These are costing The Lilywhites points, and many of them are just clumsy challenges with Joe Rafferty being a culprit on more than one occasion. On Tuesday night it was Tom Barkhuizen who took Joao Pedro’s legs from underneath him in a needless challenge. It was the only goal in the game, and aside from that Preston’s defence coped well against a strong Watford side.
On New Year’s Day it was a penalty which handed Nottingham Forest a 1-0 win. In the home fixture against Blackburn Rovers a penalty gave them the lead just before half time, and a red card for Rafferty for the challenge changed the game. In the home game against Reading, Lucas Joao had the opportunity to win the game from the spot but dragged his penalty wide.
Preston need to cut out these penalties, because it is becoming very frustrating for the manager when the rest of the defensive performance is solid. Again Jordan Storey and Liam Lindsay looked impressive so they will be disappointed not to get a clean sheet.