Saturday’s game against Bristol City had everything. In miserable conditions, the two teams shared 6 goals in an entertaining draw in which the referee Andy Davies certainly had a huge part to play. Two penalties, two disallowed goals and 3 goals that stood but could have easily all been disallowed as well.

After being 2-0 down just before half time, you’d have to be happy with North End coming away from the game with a point. The defensive display was worrying but there are still plenty of positives to take. We are still unbeaten at home, we are now unbeaten in 6 in the league and still in the mix at the right end of the table, although a win on Saturday would have seen us lead the Championship right now but alas, we are where we are and it’s been a bloody good start to the season. So, here are our player ratings from the game at Deepdale.

Declan Rudd

After a strong start to the season this wasn’t one of Declan’s better days. Whilst you could argue the first two goals may have been fouls, I believe he should have been stronger when those crosses came into the box. Taylor Moore was backing into him for the first but I expect Rudd to command his area much better than that.

For the second goal, DJ was the wrong side of his man and got in the way of Rudd and for the third, I think the North End number 1 should be doing better there. Whilst it was from point-blank range it was straight at him. I may be being harsh but all three goals were soft in my opinion.

Rating – 5

Embed from Getty Images

Darnell Fisher

Another solid display from the star man playing on the right. Bristol City’s set up is a difficult one to deal with. The three midfielders roam forward, whilst Tommy Rowe was up and down the left as a wing-back. Antoine Semenyo and Andreas Weimann are also tricky to deal with, with both players looking to move into the channels.

Darnell kept it tight on the right-hand side though and The Robins had little luck down there. I don’t think we will see Fisher drop below a ‘7’ too often this season.

Rating – 7

Embed from Getty Images

Patrick Bauer

Overall it wasn’t the best defensive performance from our back four. All three goals came from set-pieces and it is a throwback to last season when we seemed to struggle with every cross. Not the usual dominant display from Bauer, however, set pieces aside Bristol City didn’t create too many chances through the middle.

The German is now off the mark with his first goal for the club after a powerful header although he can count himself lucky it wasn’t pulled back for a foul on Nathan Baker.

Rating – 7

Embed from Getty Images

Ben Davies

Like Bauer, Davies struggled with the balls into the box on Saturday. The weather conditions made it difficult for any defender. It would have been pretty tough to predict the bounce of the ball and get it under control for any defender to be honest. However, Davies always remains calm on the ball at the back but yesterday was not one of the centre-half’s most memorable games this season.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images

Joe Rafferty

Enough can’t be said about how seamlessly Raff has slotted into the left-back role in Andrew Hughes’ absence. We were worried at the start of the season with our lack of cover in that position but we know what we’re going to get now. Rafferty is comfortable in that position, very rarely lets his man get past him and his attacking attributes are key for us as well.

He gave DJ the short option from a corner which caught the Bristol City defence out and played a great ball into the back post for Bauer to nod in.

Rating – 7

Embed from Getty Images

Ben Pearson

Glad to see him back in the team after sitting out the City match. He brings a completely unique dimension to our midfield that no one else can replicate. Yes, we know he’s strong in the challenge but his closing down is what is so key for us. It’s also a plus for Ben that he got through another game without a booking. We recently published a piece about Ben’s reputation that you can read by clicking here. It’s a good read, well worth your time.

Pearo grew into the game in the second half especially after Alan Browne came on. Difficult opponents in the midfield but Ben held his own and made some good forward passes stretching the defence as well.

Rating – 7

Embed from Getty Images

Paul Gallagher

Not his usual commanding display on Saturday but the weather will have played a big part in that. With the torrential rain lashing down throughout the game, it made it difficult for Gally to play his almost signature cross-field balls creating space. Nevertheless, he scored an important penalty for us at a crucial time. Despite Daniel Bentley diving the right way, the penalty was too powerful for him to keep out.

Interesting that he let Daniel Johnson take the next penalty as well. With both of them on form from the spot in the past, it seems like they’ll be sharing duties when both on the pitch this season.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images

Daniel Johnson

Another great display from DJ and I’m very happy he’s cementing his place in this team and proving himself to be a key player as well. Another penalty scored which takes him to 5 goals already this season, just one goal shy of his league tally for the whole of the last campaign. He also won the penalty in the first half and was quick to take the short corner to Rafferty which led to our third goal.

What’s particularly noticeable about DJ this season is his calmness. In the past, he sometimes lacked a bit of composure when receiving the ball and that will have been mainly down to some of the North End faithful getting on his back after a few mixed performances. His confidence looks to be back and he is now replicating his dominance which we first saw when he arrived on the scene in our League One promotion season.

Rating – 8

Embed from Getty Images

Josh Harrop

Although not his strongest display, it’s great to see Josh getting a regular run in the side. His agility and pace will continue to be a threat for us in that fluid front three. His main chance on Saturday came when running through the middle he seemed to have the perfect chance to test the keeper. Instead, he took too long on the ball and eventually played a poor pass to Sean Maguire who hit the side netting. Withdrawn after 60 minutes for David Nugent.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images

Tom Barkhuizen

Barky is at his best when running at full pace with the ball. His pace is terrifying for defences and he needs to make it count more often. On Saturday he brought the ball down brilliantly on a couple of occasions.

Firstly a great flick in the first half on the left opened up space for him, which led to Harrop’s aforementioned chance. Secondly, a long ball upfield was beautifully controlled and played out to Alan Browne first time which almost led to the winner but for a late deflection. More than happy to see the 26-year-old continue in that central role, he’s impressed there so far this season.

Rating  – 7

Embed from Getty Images

Sean Maguire

A relatively quiet game for the Irishman, he didn’t really cause too many problems for Lee Johnson’s side. Perhaps he could have done better with his first-half chance that hit the side netting but considering the conditions on the day, it’s harsh to be too critical. It was nice to see him link up with Nugent a few times in the second half, showing that there may be some potential to that partnership in the future.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images

Substitutes

Alan Browne

Credit should go to Alex Neil for making two great substitutions at a key time. He brought Browne and Nugent on straight after we went 3-2 down and they helped turn the game back in our favour. Browne provided a more attacking threat for us.

Alan was unlucky to not get a goal himself when he dummied a shot on his right, took it onto his left and hit a powerful shot that looked to be beating Daniel Bentley but was deflected out for a corner. Another accomplished appearance off the bench for Browney.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images

David Nugent

Nuge came on to make his second league debut for the club to a rapturous reception. It was a promising 30 minute showing from the striker. He immediately ruffled the feathers of Nathan Baker as they both tumbled to ground and Baker aimed a boot towards Nugent’s face.

His pace is still a key attribute for him as is his close ball control. Nuge definitely seems as though he can be an important part of the squad this season. As well as giving the crowd a boost he’s shown he still has a lot to offer on the pitch. p.s. a picture of him playing at Deepdale for Derby will have to do for now. Sorry.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images

Josh Ginnelly

The correct substitution from Neil at a time when we needed a bit more direct pace at the top end of the pitch. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if he had thrown on Ryan Ledson to shore it up or Brad Potts despite his very poor displays of late. But on came Ginnelly for Maguire down the right and showed great desire to beat his man and get into the box. Whilst not everything came off for him, he had the right ideas and helped create a few openings against some tired legs in his 10 minutes on the pitch.

Rating – 6

Embed from Getty Images