Rochdale 3 - 0 Preston NE
Saturday 1st November 2014 - 15:00 (League One)
Well North End certainly came down to earth with a bump at blustery Spotland as a 3-0 scoreline for the home side saw North End lose their first game in nine. On the day we were, quite frankly, second to almost everything and although we played some good stuff in patches, those patches were few and far between. Nobody in 6,102 crowd could deny that Rochdale were by far the better side on the day as we looked a little leg weary and in need of freshening up. The first goal was poor defending from Jones in my opinion and there seemed to be a bit of controversy around the third, Jones claiming that it had been kicked out of his hands. Having said all that Rochdale were just better all over the pitch and Garners penalty miss just about summed up the day on the field and also off it for the 2,844 travelling fans.
We started OK but conditions were difficult with North End playing into a very strong wind and finding it difficult to exert any influence from a creative midfield perspective. Humphrey and Robinson were just not getting past their men often enough for my liking and the home side had clearly done their homework on how to minimise the North End threat. The favoured 4-2-3-1 was looking solid enough for half an hour but then Jones just stayed on his line for an angled cross that really should have been his and O'Connell headed between Jones legs to give Rochdale the lead. It wasn't long before it was two as the impressive Bennett carved open the North End defence and crossed for Henderson to hammer home. We did try to get one back before the break but it wouldn't come and we went in two down for the second Saturday on the trot.
It didn't get much better after the break because the wind died down a little and once again Preston just could not get into their stride. Gally didn't have one of his better games but he was not on his own and Tom Clarke certainly looked like he needed the game on his first full start after his Virus. Having said that we had much more of the ball with Kevin Davies once again starting to make things happen and Garner blasting over when it looked easier to score. The third goal was always going to be the vital one but unfortunately it was Dale who scored when a counter attack looked like it had been thwarted only for Done to kick the ball away from Jones and knock it into the empty net despite the keepers protestations. With a quarter of an hour left Garner was brought down with his back to goal and although the referee gave the penalty it was well saved at a good height by the sponsors man of the match, Logan, in the home goal. Much as they tried North End couldn't score and the game fizzled out to a miserable defeat.
So the eight straight wins now go into the history books as North End dust themselves down for another long Tuesday evening game at the County Ground Swindon. No one will claim the wheels have come off after this defeat and although it is difficult to say it will have done the squad any good it will at least provide some focus and take away any possibility of complacency, which I don't think we were suffering from anyway. It was just one of those day when we were average and the opposition was much better so lets take it on the chin, dust ourselves down and go again in Wiltshire on Tuesday evening.