Roper Reports will endeavour to make sense of the recent happenings at North End and offer general comment on the world of Football.
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Fergie Time, misery and whine
Friday 19th December 2014
Not the worst week in Preston North End's history with an entertaining game at Deepdale against MK Dons (that really should have been a win) and a very unentertaining game at Meadow Lane on Tuesday evening with a fantastic result. Let's take last Saturday's draw against MK at Deepdale first and in spite of only securing one point quite a number of fans, including myself, thought that this was probably the best League game, in terms of quality, that we have seen at Deepdale this term. Unfortunately the game will probably best be remembered for two glaring misses by the North End strike force of Davies and Beckford. Both seem woefully out of form in front of goal but some of the interplay between the two was without doubt the best we have seen for some time. In all honesty there was not much between the teams who lie third and fourth in the section and both will surely be in the shakeup come the end of the season.
Tuesday night in Nottingham was a completely different kettle of fish with both teams vying for a place in the Northern Area Final of the Johnstone Paint Trophy. It was a scrappy affair in front of a meagre 2,058 with 265 travelling down from the North West. Simon Grayson made five changes to the side that started against MK Dons and adopted a 4-1-4-1 formation with Jack King sitting in front of the back four. Jermaine Beckford was once again employed as the lone striker and demonstrated emphatically that this is not a role he is particularly comfortable with. In fact when Beckford was subbed with a quarter of an hour to go it allowed Alan Little to go up front and he did more in 15 minutes than Beckford did in 75. Now this is not knocking Beckford in anyway, he just needs someone up there with him to be at his most effective. The key moment came after 20 minutes when Roy Carroll failed to get near a corner from the right and Paul Huntington bundled home goal number five to send North End through to a two legged Area final against Walsall. These games are to be played on Jan 7th and Feb 3rd with the first leg being at Deepdale.
Moving on to this week and a awkward looking trip to Peterborough to face the Posh and ex North End manager Darren Ferguson. Boro have just gone off the boil recently and Fergie seems to be under some pressure from the Chairman at London Road so we may well see a slightly edgy home side on the back of several poor results. No doubt in my mind that Grayson will revert to the side that started last week against MK but it is inevitable that quite a lot of the squad will be used over the Xmas period and into the New Year with North End riding high in the league and still involved in two cup competitions. Clearly the league is the main focus but a small giant killing against Norwich plus a trip to Wembley on March 22nd would certainly not go amiss. Oh yes – just one more thing this week – should you want to hear the Leyland correspondent talking about the weekend's football in Lancashire, then tune in to Radio Lancs on Monday at 6 when, apparently, myself and Lenny Johnrose will be chewing the cud with Phil Cunliffe. Now if that's not an excuse to watch a repeat of the X-factor I don't know what is!!!!!
Merry Christmas Everybody and God bless the departed Gentry.