Roper Reports will endeavour to make sense of the recent happenings at North End and offer general comment on the world of Football.
During the season there'll be a new report each week. You can navigate the season's articles by using the 'Older' and 'Newer' buttons or by using the drop-down menu.
Friday 17th April 2015
Two draws at home in the last seven days make the Maths very simple for North End over the final four games. With MK Dons and Swindon both able to reach a maximum of 91 points it doesn't need Einstein to work out that 92 with take us into the Championship. North End currently sit on 82 and three wins and a draw from the last four will be more than enough. The next four days are critical and the games at Port Vale on Friday evening and at Meadow Lane next Tuesday must glean four points as a minimum. Pressure will undoubtedly come into play but that applies to all the teams and a win for North End in Burslem would be massive in terms of turning up the heat on the chasing pack. Having the games in hand is fine but give me the points any day of the week and North End currently has that advantage. The team has gone fifteen games in the league without defeat and while there was a kick up the backside on Tuesday evening we must still have confidence in the players and what the management team is trying to do.
The last seven days have been stressful enough for the Deepdale faithful with two more home draws not quite the return we had hoped for. Clearly the game against Bristol City showed the standard that we have to attain to be Champions of this division and in that respect the Robins showed why they will be crowned Champions in the next few days. It was a very entertaining game against Steve Cotterill's men and at the end of the day the draw was probably the fairest result from any game I have seen this season.
Hopes were very high on Tuesday evening of collecting the three points that would once again turn up the pressure on the other teams. North End absolutely battered Gillingham in the first half of the game and if we had gone in 5-0 up at half time it would only have reflected the balance of play in the first 45 minutes. However for some reason we once again scaled down our attacking intent and allowed the Gills more of the ball. The outcome, of course, was that once the visitors scored we started to get more nervous and instead of playing to our attacking strengths and, unbelievably, Gillingham equalized in injury time to snatch a point and cut our lead down from five points to three.
John Welsh said the result was a kick up the backside for the team and let us hope he is right and that the players go out at Vale Park and Meadow Lane and show us exactly what they can do. No doubt in my mind that this squad is good enough to finish second in the division and get promotion but for these next four games it is all about mental attitude and North End need to prove to their fans that they have got exactly what it takes to do the business. We can afford one more draw but a defeat would take it out of our hands. The message to the boys for the next two games is very clear – attack, attack, attack.