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Preston Fail To Impress
Published : 10 Dec 2011 21:23:51
Phil Brown implemented his squad rotation policy again and surely has to have overtaken Claudio Ranieri and Rafa Benitez for making changes just for the sake of it.
North End started with the same back four but then oddly Brown opted to play five in midfield and one up front. Tsoumou seems to have fallen off the radar and due to Brown forcing Proctor to play the full 90 on Tuesday after a double hernia, I wouldn't be surprised if the youngster is flat on his back somewhere.
Anyway there was return for McClaughlin but in midfield on the right so Brown has yet again managed to play another player out of position. Coutts was nowhere to be seen as Mayor started on the left. The centre was packed with Doyle, Alexander and Barton who played as a second striker behind Mellor.
Preston were forced into a change after only a minute as Alexander was injured in an early challenge. Probably for the best as he has been abysmal of late. Steven Smith came on to play left back whilst Parry switched to the right (out of posiiton, naturally) and McClaughlin into central midfield. Anyway it had no effect on the game.
The midfield was overcrowded and Stevenage regretably came for a point only venturing forward in the final 15 minutes. If they had attacked earlier they may well have taken all three points.
All in all the first half was non-descript with both keepers being able to wear slippers, smoke a pipe and talk to the crowd whilst the ball was stuck between the two midfields.
The only thing to note in the first half was that the Stevenage bear mascot went to sit with the fans and proceeded to take his head off, presumably watching the game and getting paid. Plus from the 100 or so visiting fans, one actually managed to be escorted out by the officials.
The second half was brighter. Hume came off the bench to feature for the first time in over two months to replace Parry and Preston went 4-4-2 with McClaughlin reverted back to the right with Barton sitting back alongside Doyle.
The Whites pushed forward more with Mayor having some decent runs and Mellor hitting the side netting when he should have done better. The more Stevange came forward the more it allowed Preston to open up their back line.
Mellor shot narrowly wide whilst Mayor had a wild shot over after an intriguing run but Preston simply weren't good enough to force a goal past a resolute visiting side.
Stevange could have stolen the game forcing Stuckmann into three saves, two of them of a high quality which meant that Preston came away from the game with a point. Stuckmann has been thehighlight of recent weeks and means Preston fans are not now being subjected to hideous errors at the back.
The referee took the brunt of the home fans frustration at full time for some odd decisions which semeed to even themselves out over the game.
Brown will probably say it is a clean sheet and a good point as they move up the table but in all honesty they lacked any imagination without Daley and Coutts. Tsoumou came on too late and with Stevenage only attacking for 15 minutes of the game it was probably a safe bet that the back line would hold out for a clean sheet.