Preston North End 1 - West Bromwich Albion 0
Surely that’s the end now for Bruce?
Alarm bells from the lineup. Who makes 6 changes for a league game other than out of sheer desperation? 2 or 3 maybe. 4 at a push given the keeper had to be dropped too.
We started terribly with no grit, energy or determination and might have been a goal down instantly but for a great save from Palmer.
The goal was woeful - Mulumby let their player have 3 attempts at controlling it yet still got spun by a walking turn and then our back 4 left it to each other rather than attempting to block the cross or track the runner.
Summed us up - too many of them didn’t want to work or track runners, just lots of pointing and passing on.
Most of the game from our viewpoint after 20 minutes was Grady and Wallace doing their best, playing for a target man that isn’t there and the majority of the other players lacking.
We had chances and situations but fluffed them. Preston had very little but hit the post and made far more of their breaks.
There was a spell in the 2nd half where a goal looked like it might come but Grant and then Rogic spurned similar chances, and then Bruce moved so many players off and around that we lost momentum and created very little for our possession.
There is no plan. Our set plays are terrible. We’re fragile and rudderless. We keep getting beaten by teams who are really not very good. Very bad signs.
The more that things change; the more they stay the same
Bruce made six changes to the side that should have won against Swansea, most notably giving youth product Palmer a go between the sticks, deciding that Kelly was now fit enough to make a competitive start, having not made one since 2020, and rewarding Grant, presumably for at least having an on-target shot when failing to convert that penalty, with a start.
With Preston only having scored three, albeit only having conceded four, there might have been some optimism around not having to chase the game from "early-doors", optimism that would have been heightened even further after Palmer pulled off a save and a block within the first couple of minutes, but, before the one appeared in the tens column on the stadium clock, Albion would be behind once again.
A ball got played out into the right back-area, where TGH had been brought in for Furlong, and Preston's Man Utd loanee fired a cross in behind the rest of the back four, who, somehow, all failed to notice the Preston striker sliding in between them, which allowed him to finish nicely, getting to the ball before it reached Palmer.
Albion, as they often do, then tried to get back into the game, mostly through Diangana, who drove one in that Grant couldn't get on the end of, and then played a one-two with the same player, before seeing his own shot go wide.
As the quarter-hour passed, we got a couple of decent crosses into the box, but no-one got on the end of them, and we got to see Roy Keane in the stands.
With five to go, Palmer was beaten again, but the ball came back off the post, and just before the break Wallace had a shot that their keeper saved.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Diangana, who had got to the bye-line and was looking to come back in off it, got his shirt pulled, but either the officials didn't see it, or they did but they just didn't see any reason to give it.
The substitutions started just before the hour mark, with a double swap of both the holding midfielders, Yokuslu and Molumby, who'd been the other two of the six changes, being ushered off in favour of the previous game's starters, Rogic and Livermore.
Just after the hour, Swift played a ball into Grant who had got in between defenders in the Preston backline but although his first touch seemed to have taken the pace off the pass perfectly for a shot, the time he took to get the shot off allowed a defender to get a foot in, and the chance was gone.
It still took another eight or so minutes for Thomas-Asante to replace Grant, during which Rogic advanced after some nice play down the left, but again, no shot resulted.
And with fifteen left, Swift, who not only seems to have lost the knack of arriving late to latch onto any pull-backs from the flanks, but also seems to have lost the ability to get us going forwards so as to see as many pull-backs from the flanks as we did earlier in the season, got pulled off for Phillips, although, given the amount of time he seemed to be playing wide right, he may have pulled rank on Wallace over the right-wing spot, rather than going on and playing where Swift is usually found.
The penalty that wasn't given might have made the game interesting, not least in seeing who would been given the job of taking them, instead of Grant, who surely won't be asked to do so ever again.
Given that six changes tonight didn't really change anything against a side that don't score and don't concede, it'll be interesting to see how many changes Bruce makes when we come up against a side that does seem to score a few, but also seems to give up nearly as many, assuming that the next change isn't the man picking the side.
I hear reports that Kipre, Sawyers and Robinson, all of whom were surplus to requirements at the Albion, seem to be doing alright down at Cardiff. Now if only we could work out what the difference is.
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