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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

Tuesday 10th April.

The games are coming thick and fast at the moment, and we have hardly had time to catch our breath after the marvellous win at Wolves on Saturday before tonight’s visit to Deepdale. With Lee Morris returned to Pride Park to help with their survival push, our own survival effort would have to be made with Ben Thornley playing on the left wing, but other than that the side was the same as the one that performed so creditably on Saturday.

When you’re in deep poo at the wrong end of the table wins are wonderful, but failing a maximum haul the most important thing is not to lose and Town set out their stall to do precisely this. Needing a win to boost their play off hopes, Preston attacked right from the kick-off and created an excellent early effort in the third minute as Richard Cresswell headed Lee Cartwright’s cross towards goal from the edge of the area, but Nico Vaesen was up to the task and saved well. The hosts continued to completely dominate the game yet were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities as the defence stood firm once again.

More than 10 minutes had passed before Town created their first real opening when a Dean Gorré shot from 20 yards was deflected for a corner but the ensuing place kick was easily cleared by the home defence. Buoyed up by this effort Town began to look slightly more adventurous, and Ben Thornley had a shot blocked by Lee Cartwright and Steve Jenkins follow-up effort was blasted wide of the goal. Both sides were involved in a number of attacks, but both seemed unable to create any clear-cut chances as the defences were on top at either end.

The two midfields cancelled each other out and Chris Holland seemed to revel in his return to the club where his career began and appeared to thrive in the blustery and showery conditions. Preston managed to accrue a number of corners but failed to capitalise as the defence was in no mood to capitulate and even the front players were back helping out for set plays. In fact it was a clearance from a Preston attack that was to finally end Andy Booth’s involvement in the game when he caught his ankle on base of the upright to deny Colin Murdock from a close range effort.

Preston continued to have the better of the game without reward as Andy Booth continued to try to run off his injury, but it left Town lacking attacking options and Lucketti and Dyson had to work hard to resist the constant aerial threat posed by the hosts. Just a minute or so before half time Booth’s injury finally saw him leave the field to be replaced by Kevin Gallen, and I was surprised that he didn’t try to make it through to the interval to receive treatment and perhaps continue in the second half.

Preston seemed more fired up following the interval and soon created a couple of opportunities which both fell to former Sheffield Wednesday man Richard Cresswell. His first was a header from eight yards out that was well saved by Nico Vaesen, and then shortly afterwards shot towards goal but a couple of deflections saw the ball pass safely for a corner. Little was seen of Town as an attacking force as they looked to hold on for a point and they defended with real purpose, none less than Steve Jenkins who has adapted surprisingly well to his left back role, and the Welshman pulled off a brilliant tackle with around a quarter of an hour remaining to halt the progress of the lively Cresswell.

The second half was not quite entirely all Preston as Town did manage to break their defensive shackles from time to time, and Dean Gorré tried his luck from 20 yards out but the Preston keeper collected his goal-bound shot quite routinely. Sensing that there was the possibility of an unlikely victory Town continued to break forward when the opportunity was there, and Delroy Facey and Ben Thornley both had half chances to try to steal something from the game. The best late chance for Town fell to Kevin Gallen as he got a touch onto a Ben Thornley cross but his effort was deflected to safety by Graham Alexander. Even the introduction of top scorer Macken who was returning from injury failed to ignite the “Lilywhites” as the back four continued to mop up any half chances Preston were able to create.

Overall it was a game of limited chances and limited entertainment and both sides looked reasonably content to settle for a point as they looked to consolidate their respective causes. The full time whistle was welcomed for two reasons. Firstly it was a valuable point from a potentially tricky fixture, and secondly, it ended the suffering of the 13,000 or so who had witnessed a game that was apparently as dull as ditchwater. No matter, it’s points that keep teams up and not performances. I don’t really care if the remaining 6 games of the season are like watching paint dry if they bring the couple of wins and the odd draw we probably need for survival. We have managed to eliminate some of the sloppy goals we were conceding in the earlier part of the season making it possible to hold on for 0-0 draws or possibly pilfer a few wins here and there. Six no-score draws for the rest of the season would probably do the trick, although it wouldn’t be very good for the blood pressure.

Queens Park Rangers only managed a draw tonight, and although Tranmere won we have lifted ourselves into 19th place above Portsmouth and Grimsby, just a point behind Stockport on whom we have a game in hand. The safety equation now is that all we have to do is match the results of Portsmouth, Grimsby or Crystal Palace and our superior goal difference will do the rest. The only problem is that our Easter games against first and second in the division will make this a tricky task.

Preston North End 0


Position in table – 19th

Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Lucketti; Dyson; Heary; Thornley; Armstrong; Holland; Booth (Gallen 44); Facey; Gorré. Subs not used – Margetson; Moses; Gray; Irons.

Preston North End – Lucas; Alexander; Edwards; Kidd; McKenna; Cartwright (Barry-Murphy 75); Gregan; Healy (Macken 61); Murdock; Rankine (Anderson 61); Cresswell. Subs not used – Lonergan; Gunnlaugsson.

Referee – Chris Foy (St Helens). Attendance 13,185



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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