Preston NE 0 - 0 Leyton Orient
Saturday 23rd March 2013 - 15:00 (League One)
Only a point for North End on a bitterly cold March afternoon against a workmanlike and physical Orient side. I think Simon Grayson will have learned quite a lot from this game both about individual players and about his squad in general. North End didn't play badly but they were bullied off the ball far too often for my liking and looked very lightweight in several areas all across the park. Having said that we had two good chances via Wright and King to win the game on a day when a draw was a very fair result in my opinion. Orient looked more composed on the ball yet it was Preston who looked the most likely but the final ball and the lack of a cutting edge after Beavon's departure meant that it was only a share of the spoils for the home side.
The game started on a bobbly pitch with top quality football at a premium. To be fair to North End we were doing most of the attacking early on but the dynamics of the game changed after Beavon was stretchered off with what turned out to be concussion. We had our chances and should have had a blantant penalty when a shot was charged down but the refereee chose to ignore the incident and I thought his officiating was generally weak all afternoon, allowing the visitors to get away with far too much, particularly persistant fouling. Bailey Wright had our best chance of the half but couldn't quite convert while at the other end we looked very solid with the very reliable Rudd in goal. North End will probably feel they should have been leading at the break but goals win matches and this was a day when we just couldn't find the back of the net.
After the break we reverted to a more long ball game with the visitors finding it easier to defend against. Holmes was our main threat down the right flank but we were allowing Orient more space upfield and the vistors did come back into the game causing us a couple of anxious moments. A great ball from the right flank scooted across the Leyton goal and as Wright flicked on, Jack King could not quite get his foot to the ball and knock it home for a goal that would have surely won us the game. King also should have done much better with a free header that he lauched over the bar when he really should have headed it downwards towards goal. We survived a couple of late corners but even the introduction of Monakana could not force the issue with young Jeffrey seemingly pulling out of one or two tackles the crowd felt he should have made more of an effort with.
Just a point then from a bitty game really and the 8,405 would have gone home a bit non-plussed about it all and just glad to get in the warm on what was an absolutely bitterly cold day. Another clean sheet for North End as Grayson seems to have got the back line holding very firm but he must bring some creativity to the side next term and just hope that Welsh stays fit because he was sorely missed in the engine room by North End on Saturday. A decent result and performance but only that and much to ponder about for the manager when his thoughts turn to next season and the question of who stays and who goes.