Sean Maguire admitted it has been a frustrating end to the campaign for Preston North End as they signed off with a 1-1 draw against Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
The Irishman was on the scoresheet early on, finishing coolly beyond goalkeeper Daniel Bentley after a marvellous Daniel Johnson flick, but Famara Diédhiou levelled matters minutes after the half-time restart to earn the hosts a point, despite the Lilywhites having a number of opportunities to both extend their lead earlier on, and regain it thereafter.
North End’s No.24 was disappointed that dominance was only rewarded with a draw and he conceded that it was a familiar feeling that provided something of a summary of their fortunes this term.
“I think tonight’s performance kind of summed up our season in one,” Seani told iFollow PNE. “At times, we played them off the park, I think we limited them to maybe one clear-cut chance, but they scored, and then we had five or six chances where we felt we should have scored. To come away with a 1-1 draw was disappointing.
“It sums up the season because it’s been a frustrating end to the season because I think the boys, the staff, the manager, this club deserved a lot more this season, especially on the way we’ve performed for most parts of the season.
“To come away where we finished, just a couple of points off the Play-Offs, is disappointing, but it’s a nice way for me personally to finish off the season with a goal. Personally, I haven’t lived up to my own expectations goals-wise, but I’m optimistic and I’m positive.
“You’re only as good as your last game I suppose but we just have to build on that now, it’s a quick turnaround and you’re only as good as your last game and hopefully I can continue that, a couple of weeks off and then continue that into pre-season in a couple of weeks.”
Daniel Johnson provided the stylish assist for Maguire’s deadlock-breaking strike and with manager Alex Neil having lavished praise on the No.11 after the game, the Republic of Ireland international was equally complimentary of the club’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year – awards he picked up earlier this week.
“You wouldn’t thought I haven’t scored in about six months, but it was one of those ones where I knew exactly what DJ was going to do because that’s the type of player DJ is, he’s the most talented player I’ve probably ever played with,” he added.
“Not just for that chance, I had another chance in the first half where the ‘keeper made a good save and I thought that myself and DJ were brilliant in the first half, we were kind of telepathic in a way. It was really enjoyable to play with him in the first half.
“We always knew Bristol were going to come out and chase the game in the second half but I was happy with the finish in the end.”
The 26-year-old forward feels the upcoming break will be important in a mental sense in allowing the squad to recover over a likely short timeframe before next season resumes, for which Maguire has high ambitions that North End can challenge for promotion again.
“We’ve just got to take the positives from this season and drive on because we know well that we’re more than capable of not even [just] getting top six – last November, we were first and we were thinking then, ‘I don’t think there’s many teams better than us in the league’.
“We’ve just got to keep that belief, keep that togetherness and I’ve no doubts that this team can bounce back again next year and be even stronger.
“Even though people probably think we’ve had a break and we weren’t training [during lockdown after the season’s three-month postponement], all of us were running, whether it’s gym at home or bike at home, so we’ve been non-stop because we didn’t know when we were going to be back.
“If anything, this break will be nice mentally, not just physically, because when we get back it’s going to be pretty much hell for leather for ten months because we have to fit another five or six games into a 46 game season.
“You’ve seen the last couple of weeks we’ve used pretty much most of our squad and we’ve come up with great results. I don’t see why we can’t come back and be even stronger.”
Watch more from Seani on iFollow PNE.