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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Tis the season to be jolly
Thursday 24th December 2015
No one says it more than me that football is a game of opinions and that is what makes it such a talked about sport. When we talk about opinions, though, we are generally looking retrospectively at a team or individuals performance or, in some instances, we may well be trying to predict the future. The cold truth though is that where a team resides in the football league is purely based on fact and these are the facts regarding North End so far this term. Here we are just prior to the Boxing Day games against Barnsley and North End sit just one point behind the league leaders, Bristol City – fact. We are also in the Northern Area Final of the Johnstone Paint Trophy – fact. We lost our leading scorer and Talisman for 4 months just five weeks ago and we have remained unbeaten ever since – fact. We are in the third round of the FA Cup with a difficult but winnable home tie against Norwich City – fact. So when we settle down with the Turkey in front of us on Thursday afternoon we can reflect on a very satisfactory first half to the season after the shattering disappointment of another playoff defeat at Rotherham in May. As far as we, as North End fans, are concerned this Christmas is indeed the season to be jolly.
Two very big games coming up to end 2014 with a Lancs – Yorks derby against Barnsley on Boxing Day at Deepdale followed, two days later, by a one hour dash down the road to play Crewe at Gresty Road. Barnsley were relegated from the Championship last season and have certainly not hit the heights that supporters at Oakwell were expecting. The have a seriously good squad at league one level but reports from South Yorkshire say that the team is very inconsistent so the outcome of the game may well be decided by which Barnsley team turn up on Friday afternoon. The game at Crewe looks easier on paper but the Railwaymen seem to have become a bit of a bogey team for North End recently and have had the Indian sign over us for a few seasons now. Crewe are lying at the foot of the table and we need to win these sort of games if we want to clinch that all important top two slot and take the dreaded play offs out of the occasion. I said before the game at Peterborough that seven points from the next three would be a good return and I will not waiver from that statement. Yes, we would certainly like to win both games but four points would not be a disaster and would set us up nicely as we march into 2015 flying high in the league and still in two cup competitions.
Going back to last Saturday and an excellent away win at London Road against a Peterborough side who are clearly achieving in my book and who may well cause some teams at the top some difficult moments before the season is over. A very well taken goal from Jermaine Beckford was the difference between the teams as North End once again fought a bit of a rearguard action towards the end but keep the home side out to collect another three priceless points in front of 475 travelers who, once again, gave fantastic support to the boys from start to finish. Finally, can I wish you all a very peaceful and Happy Christmas and encourage everyone to blow the cobwebs away on Boxing Day and to cheer the boys on to what we hope with be another three points in the quest for the Championship.