Preston racked up another impressive away win this afternoon, beating Millwall 3-1 at The New Den.
Early goals from Andrew Hughes and Tom Clarke had North End 2-0 up, before Seani Maguire added a third. Ben Thompson gave North End something to qualm over with a goal back for Millwall, but Preston held on for all three points.
It’s four away wins in a row for North End, and eight games without defeat. And yet, fans have every right to be a little miffed tonight.
That’s because Ben Pearson picked up a tenth yellow card of the season. Of course, it came in the most Ben Pearson way imaginable.
85' Pearson is booked for delaying the restart, he will now miss the next two games after picking up his tenth booking of the season.
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) February 23, 2019
Pearson now misses two of the biggest games of the season; Bristol City at home, a chance to push for the top six, and a local derby at Blackburn Rovers.
It goes without saying that this is a huge blow for North End. Pearson is the heartbeat of this team, and our chances of winning those two games have been seriously dented.
Many of us have defended Pearson’s disciplinary record over the years. 10 yellows and two reds this season, as well as 31 yellows and a red in the previous two seasons. The old adage that ‘he won’t be the same player if you take that edge out of his game!’ has been screamed for a long, long time now.
Whilst that’s mostly true, this one really stings. Pearson went into the game knowing that he was a booking away from missing key games. And yet he picked up another caution in such a ridiculous manner, delaying the game with five minutes to go at 3-1 up.
Another Pearson’s absence gives Ryan Ledson a chance in that combative role, but Alex Neil has plenty to ponder. Does he trust 21-year-old Ledson to play as the one holding player in the 4-1-4-1 system? Will it now mean Paul Gallagher has to drop in alongside him?
These are questions Neil was hoping to avoid ahead of two massive games, and yet here we are. When we should be celebrating another outstanding win, we’re instead reflecting on costly impetuousness from arguably our most important player.