No-one in the North End squad deserved to walk off the pitch as a loser in their last home game three weeks ago.
The man of the match that afternoon was North End’s combative young midfielder Ben Pearson, who, since his re-introduction to the team at Bournemouth at the end of September has become a mainstay of the side that has moved steadily up the table, taking points from the so-called big teams in the Championship.
But that wasn’t the case when the season got underway, and for the first six weeks of the season he wasn’t making the 18 at all, so how did he deal with that?
The One And Only sat down with the former Manchester United man to talk about his return to the team and his impressive recent form during his extended international break – due to missing the Rotherham game through suspension – and he admitted that he had found the early part of the season difficult, but had used it to sharpen up on areas of his life, preparation and training to improve when his chance came along.
“I was perhaps a bit shy on confidence; I was quite new to the group; I hadn’t played too many matches at this level and then training was different, so all of those things accumulated together and I wasn’t getting in the squad or on the bench, so it was frustrating,” he told the matchday programme.
“But I always knew I would get a chance and Bournemouth came along and it was make or break really. It could have gone both ways.
“If I had played badly I still probably wouldn’t be in the squad to this day. It is about taking your chances and hopefully I have done that and it just shows that you are never out of the picture.
“I am really enjoying myself at the minute. There have been times this year when I have been dreading coming in, knowing I am probably not playing on a Saturday, but now training is going well, everyone has been playing well and the results have been positive. So I am really enjoying myself and I can’t complain about anything.
“I think that not playing has done me good and what I mean by that is that I have really knuckled down on the other side of my game. I have concentrated on the nutrition side of things at home. In the gym I have been doing extra stuff. I have been working a lot harder in training.
“I was concentrating on all these things whilst I was out of the team, to give myself the best chance when I got back in; so I do think being out of the side has done me good.
“Football wise I think this is the best shape I have been in; the most confident I have been.
“I have just been enjoying my football and playing every week and we have been getting good results, so long may that continue.
“The first six months I was here – the second part of last season – was a settling in period for me, getting to know the players and the coaching staff.
“I had never played in the Championship before, either, so it was a taster for me and I had to adapt quickly.
“I got a good season under my belt and now I have started playing, playing well and the results have started to come, I do feel settled. I know all the lads now, I am close to quite a few of them and all the coaching staff have been great, so I feel at home and I want to stay here as long as possible and hopefully we can get this club promoted.”
You can read plenty more from Ben, plus features with Jermaine Beckford, Chris Maxwell, Matthew Hill, Eoin Doyle and Alex Baptiste.
There’s also all our regular features and plenty on our opponents in the 100-page edition of The One And Only. The programme will be on sale from Friday afternoon from the Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office or from sellers inside and outside the ground on matchday.