If you told me before the season that we’d take four points from Bournemouth, I’d have snapped your hand off. Saturday was a day for a Deepdale return for Ben Pearson who had left for the south coast in the January window.
Sadly for him, there was no party in Preston, as North End managed to pull level in the second half through Daniel Johnson to ensure a point stayed in Preston in a game in which Bournemouth could have been out of sight early on if it wasn’t for some great saves from Daniel Iversen.
For me, if PNE hadn’t been sloppy at the back for Bournemouth’s goal, Saturday could very well have been a game that North End could have snatched all three points from and made it a double over the former Premier League side in their first season back in the Championship since the 2014/15 season.
It’s been a familiar thing since he joined in January, but Daniel Iversen was once again on top form to keep Bournemouth out, obviously barring the goal we conceded. Over the weekend there’s been talk of getting Daniel back in on loan next season, whether or not there’s any truth in it, or whether or not it will happen, we’re yet to know but he’d be a welcome addition next season and would provide some real competition for Declan Rudd.
In the first half, it was pretty much all Bournemouth. It felt as though North End could not string more than 5 passes together without one being intercepted or misplaced, we certainly weren’t at the races for the first half and a big change was needed for the second half if we were to get anything from the game.
I don’t know what Alex said at half time but it worked. North End looked the better side as the game progressed with us putting Bournemouth under vast amounts of pressure at times.
Bournemouth defended well on the whole but we did have two very good goal scoring chances within about 30 or so seconds, Tom Barkhuizen having a shot blocked when he looked through on goal and Ben Whiteman again showing what he can do, pinging one out to an unmarked Ched Evans on the right who saw his effort blocked at the very last second.
We stopped Bournemouth from getting on the ball and playing their way and repeatedly forced them back into their own half. On another day, North End could have found themselves in front with better finishing. Jordan Storey even had a great effort on the volley that sailed just over the bar.
It was nice to see Sean Maguire back on the field after some time out with an injury and after replacing Tom Barkhuize with half an hour or so on the clock, he certainly was not lacking in terms of sharpness. Seani and van den Berg linked up well on the right hand side a few times, possibly a sign of things to come between now and the end of the season.
Before the game and definitely on the day, most fans would have taken a draw, especially after that first-half display. Bournemouth looked resilient at the back but it shows that a simple lapse of concentration at the back and with the likes of DJ in the side, we can punish sides, as he did with his sweetly hit left-footed finish for the goal.
™️ Daniel Johnson 🎯
A trademark finish from DJ for his fifth goal of the season which earned North End a point at Deepdale yesterday. 👌
Highlights on iFollow PNE. ➡️ https://t.co/I8X388XJ5p#pnefc pic.twitter.com/o3YHbR6mmy— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) March 7, 2021
The effort from DJ gave me flashbacks to his finish against Birmingham away a few years back in a 3-1 victory, his goal starting a comeback. The one thing I like about DJ is his ability to drive forward with the ball and often having the composure and quality to be able to slot home. In some cases, midfielders will often look for the wide option and try to make themselves available in the box for a cross. It’s just unpredictable with DJ, a fine player.
As I mentioned earlier, looking back at the game North End were poor from a defensive point of view for the Bournemouth goal. A lofted ball down the right seemed to have caught Storey off guard and Solanke managed to out-muscle young Jordan and he put Danjuma through to fire home from close range.
Personally, I don’t think Storey is that aware that Solanke is as close as he is to him, in instances like that it’s the obvious thing to do to clear the ball when you’re getting closed down in the manner he was. Take nothing away from Jordan though, he’s been great since coming back into the side against Rovers and fully deserves his place in the back four in the absence of Patrick Bauer.
As I said earlier, though. Many of us would have taken the draw. The bigger picture is that a point is better than nothing given our current position in the league and especially considering the way the game went. Early signs were that it wasn’t going to be an afternoon to remember for North End fans but PNE came out of the blocks quickly in the second half.
Going right back to the start of this piece, if you told me before the season that we’d take four points from Bournemouth this season, I’d have snapped your hand off.
A final note, it was bittersweet to see Pearo back playing at Deepdale in opposition colours and it’s a shame we never got to see Pearo’s final hurrah in the stadium.
DJ and Pearo embracing each other at the end of the game almost brought tears to my eyes. All of the memories and great times Ben had at the club certainly won’t be forgotten, by me at least.
I’ll still love him even though he’s left us to go and play with “better players”…
The latest episode of the From the Finney podcast is available to stream now. Jake and Jimmy were joined by Jack Goodwin for this episode as they looked back at the Bournemouth game and looked ahead to the future of the club, a possible restructure and had a bit of a chat about next season’s season tickets.