The ACN Match Review – Preston North End (a)


A win? Cool, cool. An AWAY win? Now that’s well and truly buttered our pies, says Ffion Thomas. Here’s her lowdown.

The line-up

Based on the pre-match press conference, I watched the clock tick over to 2pm with extreme trepidation but then saw Josh Sargent’s name in the starting line-up and Jonny Rowe on the bench, and all was well in the world. Rowe came on with 20 minutes to go and looked as if he’d never been away, immediately winning a couple of corners, snapping into tackles, running at defenders and getting the away end fired up just as the game was drifting towards a 0-0. A substitution that makes us more attacking and likely to score, not less? This could catch on.

The atmosphere

A massive game for both sides though the home atmosphere never really got going, perhaps dampened by the continued horrible weather that means it still doesn’t feel as if we should be anywhere near the end of the season. However, in answer to the “Is this a library?” chant, Deepdale is still the home of the research centre and archive of the National Football Museum, so yes, it is. Shout out to the group at the back who kept the songs going loudly and continuously in the away end.

Hurrah moment

A pinpoint through ball from Kenny McLean sets Player of the Season Elect Gabriel Sara free to turn two Preston defenders in one movement, leaving one of them face down on the floor, before sitting another on his bum in the area and placing the ball into the corner beyond the keeper who now has his head in his hands. One of those “Go on, GO ON!!!” goals and worthy of winning any game.

Boooo moment

Sorry, scrap all that stuff I wrote above because I’ve just seen that Preston manager Ryan Lowe said that it was actually a “scruffy goal”. Fair enough Ryan.

Hero of the match

Sara got the goal but his fellow South American Marcelino Núñez had another great game dictating things in midfield, and is one of the key reasons for our improvement in form since the turn of the year. He’s magic, you knoooowww…

Our post-match takeaway

We were perhaps lucky to go in level at half time after a few hairy moments at set pieces including Preston hitting the bar just before the break, but this was by no means a smash and grab – the second half was much more controlled and once Rowe came on the attacking impetus swung firmly in our direction. A great away performance in our hardest remaining game on paper and we look like we could have our play-off spot secured with a bit to spare before the end of the season – which is something I really didn’t think I’d be saying a few months ago.


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