Ben Pearson was disappointed he couldn’t mark his 150th appearance for the club with a win, as North End failed to take momentum from their equalising goal against Cardiff City at Deepdale, as Alex Neil’s side conceded twice in the final ten minutes in a 3-1 defeat.
Daniel Johnson took just five minutes to cancel out Joe Ralls’ opener, in a frantic end to the game which saw all four goals come in 21 minutes, in the Lilywhites’ first competitive encounter back at home since the Championship restart.
The Lilywhites couldn’t get the next goal, though, which Pearson rued as he told iFollow PNE of his expectancy that they could go on to win the game from that point.
“It’s disappointing,” said Pearo. “I thought it was a scrappy game, the way they play made it difficult to get anything going on. They lock you on and play man for man and it became difficult.
“I thought we started alright, we looked threatening and got in threatening positions but goals change games and they’ve managed to score their chances and we haven’t. Once you score that equaliser so quickly, I think your team is in the ascendancy.
“I couldn’t see us getting beat, I could only see us getting another goal with 20 or 25 minutes left. I think I’ll have to look back at the goals but obviously it’s disappointing to lose the game.”
“I think we had three or four good chances towards the end as well. Josh Harrop has a good one, Nugent has a good one, and there’s numerous others that we had decent opportunities.
“I think getting that first goal in any game is crucial and they obviously got it today. When you do equalise so quickly, you should really take advantage of that and at least see the game out as a draw or win the game and I think that’s just the disappointing factor today.”
It proved to be a cagey first half which included two penalty shouts for North End, against Scott Sinclair early on and then Alan Browne, and North End’s No.4 was particularly frustrated not see a decision given for the latter’s appeal.
“I haven’t seen the one on Scott but Scott said it should have been penalty and the Browney one is a stone wall. I’m right to the side and he’s pulling on his shirt, so I don’t know how the ref or the liner didn’t give that one.
“But to be honest, I thought both teams looked average, we probably played into their hands a bit but they’re a strong, powerful side who know what they’re good at and fair play to them, it’s not the prettiest to watch or playing at I’m guessing, but it’s effective.”
The midfielder added that it was strange to return to an empty Deepdale under the circumstances, with so much still to play for, but stressed he and his team-mates must go about setting the pace themselves in forthcoming games.
“I think it’s strange in the way that there’s so much to play for but being out on that pitch, I don’t think you realise, because there’s no atmosphere, because you don’t get that adrenaline buzz.
“I think the goal of the Premier League and what’s at stake probably gets hidden a little bit because it’s like a training game. We’ve got to set the tempo, we’ve got to make it feel as if it’s a normal game, so every team is the same so we can’t complain at that.
“I think we’ve just got to crack on, rest up, recover, take each game as it comes, I think we’ve got seven games left and 21 points left to play for, so just all stick together, don’t panic and crack on.”
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