Preston fans, players and staff will still be reeling from last night’s defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion.
North End were up against it even before kick off. Alex Neil had been hit with a host of injuries, with the entire back four that started the season – Darnell Fisher, Patrick Bauer, Ben Davies and Andrew Hughes – all missing.
Facing the Championship’s top goalscorers with those absences was a daunting task, but Preston were impressive. Neil’s side battled away and frustrated the Baggies, and even created a number of good chances in the second half.
A deserved draw appeared to be on the cards, but that all changed at the death. Kyle Edwards broke clear for the Baggies and went around Declan Rudd, before taking a tumble.
Referee Oliver Langford bought it despite there being little to no contact, awarding West Brom a last-gasp penalty – and Charlie Austin stepped up to score from the spot.
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Preston were harshly done by, and Langford no doubt realises his mistake now. Preston fans have been raging with the referee, but some have also placed some blame on Rudd.
Rudd did give the referee a decision to make by racing off his line and going to ground, and appeared to hesitate when deciding whether to come off his line or stay at home – and that delay just gave Edwards the chance to get to the ball first.
We often criticise Rudd for not coming off his line, so it seems harsh to get on his case for doing it this time. However, one ex-Preston striker wasn’t too impressed.
Jermaine Beckford – working as a pundit for Sky Sports – suggested post-match that Rudd ‘didn’t really commit himself’ and that’s always a worry, believing your goalkeeper must make decisions quicker, seemingly feeling that Rudd’s hesitation was key to the penalty incident.
“As he was running through on goal, I was looking at Declan Rudd in goal, and he kind of half made up his mind,” said Beckford. “He wasn’t quite sure whether to go, whether to stay, and then he came out. When he came out, he didn’t really commit himself, he kind of half-heartedly came out. You always worry for a goalkeeper if he’s coming out, just go for it. If you’re going to come out, commit yourself, don’t stop and stay still,” he added.