The defeat to West Bromwich Albion on Thursday night was a poor way to end the year. Whilst some defeats you can take on the chin, others hurt when it looks as if they players had given up before even stepping on the pitch.
None of the players could hold their heads high after that, and if there was a game plan it was impossible to tell. Ryan Lowe himself looks short on ideas, and there is a total lack of quality in the squad. But even without that the least you want is some determination and some fight from the players. We have seen it before under Lowe.
Preston North End 2-2 Sheffield United – 18th January 2022
A cold Tuesday night just a month into Ryan Lowe’s tenure saw Preston snatch a draw despite being 2-0 down with only 10 men at half time. The second half fightback was a joy to watch against a very talented Blades side who were chasing an immediate return to the top flight.
With Jayden Bogle having already given Sheffield United the lead, Andrew Hughes was wrongly dismissed for a foul on the clumsy Rhian Brewster and after Billy Sharp dispatched the penalty you could have been forgiven for thinking the game was done and dusted. Greg Cunningham and Joe Rafferty were brought on, and we stuck with a back five that kept us in the game.
Lowe then brought on Ched Evans for Tom Barkhuizen and we went for it with a 4-3-2. It showed a new Preston side, an adventurous one under Lowe; something we are crying out for now. They weren’t giving up on this one. Suddenly Ben Whiteman, Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne were closing down at every opportunity and flying into tackles to blunt The Blades.
The fans could sense this game wasn’t over just yet and were willing them on to punish a presumptuous Sheffield United side. We got one back through Alan Browne after some great work by DJ. Evans then provided a perfect cross to the back post for Emil Riis. He let out a roar with his celebration in front of the Town End who bounced around in disbelief.
The result showed we didn’t give up despite the scoreline and having 10 men, a far cry from the shambles against West Bromwich Albion. At the time I wrote This is a new Preston North End. One led by the talismanic Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson. Ryan Lowe will have learned an awful lot about his players from Tuesday night. As they move above Blackpool in the league table, the future looks so much brighter for this club than the dark shadows that cast over it previously“.
They need to watch that game back to remind them of the passion and determination they are capable of showing. Some of those players aren’t at the club such as Sepp van den Berg, Tom Barkhuizen and Joe Rafferty, but the majority will remember it was the start of Ryan Lowe’s Preston North End, and it gave us a glimpse of the possibilities. Despite having 10 men, they held on, and then closed down at every opportunity, and ran their socks off. Something which should be the bare minimum for any professional football player anyway.