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.
Moving on up
Thursday 21st August 2014
A better week for North End on the League front this week with four points from two away games that was oh so close to being six. After a comprehensive demolition of Scunthorpe last Saturday we just had all three points snatched from us at Doncaster on Tuesday evening in the 92nd minute of a very competitive game. I suppose before the fixtures we would have gladly taken the four points from six but coming away from the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday evening it felt more like a defeat than a draw.
The game in North Lincolnshire on Saturday saw us facing the newly promoted Iron and with a 28 match unbeaten run in the bottom division it looked a tough game on paper. However League One is certainly proving to be a degree tougher and after a good start Scunthorpe were well beaten by four goals to nil with Chris Humphrey being outstanding on the day for North End. On Tuesday evening we met newly relegated Doncaster in what proved to be a much more difficult encounter. We started well but were on the back foot for long periods in the first half and were probably lucky to go in level. In the second period we upped the ante somewhat and when Chris Humphrey smashed one in with 25 minutes to go we were looking comfortable. Once again, though, in injury time we conceded to a Nathan Tyson scrambled effort and the 874 travelers made their weary way home feeling like we had lost.
The next seven days sees a local derby at Deepdale on Saturday with the visit of Oldham and if last year is anything to go by it will not be easy. However, the Latics have not particularly started well and these are the kind of games that North End must win if they are to make an automatic promotion challenge. A win on Saturday would give us eight points from four games maintaining that all important two points per game ratio that we need to maintain to secure the Golden Prize next May. Next Tuesday evening we make the 110 mile trip up to the Riverside Stadium to face Championship Middlesbrough in the second round of the Capital one Cup. Clearly this is a competition that the manager takes seriously and I fully expect Simon Grayson to put his strongest team out in the hope of creating a mini upset and seeing us through to round three.
In other news this week, North End have been drawn to face Shrewsbury Town in the 1st round of the Paint Pot cup with the tie being played at Deepdale on Tuesday 2nd September. Now this is a game that I do expect the manager to make several changes in and to give some of the squad players the chance to stake their claim for the long season ahead. The game at Leyton Orient on Saturday September 6th has been postponed due to international call ups with Wiseman, Humphrey and Bailey Wright of the senior professionals chosen for their respective squads. No doubt the likes of Hayhurst and Browne may well get a call for the U21 teams later in the week. This is a real shame as the Saturday game at Orient last season was undoubtedly the best of the campaign with a fantastic atmosphere – one which I doubt will be recreated on a damp Tuesday evening.