It really was a disappointing afternoon against a side that I'd expected us to beat in a game that was played in dreadful conditions as the rain poured down and the wind ensured that, at times, some of that rain reached us in the upper tier of the Longside.
I didn't think our performance was as good as Sean Dyche suggested afterwards but I'm damn sure it was nothing like as bad as the overreaction that followed on the message board last night. But I did agree with the manager in that, had we taken our chances we would have won the game.
The weather changed our pre-match plans. I'm not one for walking around in the rain so the visit to the Bridge was cancelled and instead we called into the Park View. I don't think they were quite prepared for a game and when one customer asked for a soft drink he was asked if he would wait so they could go to the shop and buy a bottle.
|Michael Keane was on the losing side against twin brother Will|
That was nothing, I was asked by a fellow football fan in there: "Could you give me directions to the ground?" I thought at that point it was time to get out of there and onto the ground.
There's one thing with the season cards, they record your entry into the ground and when I check back online it is usually around ten minutes before kick off when I'm going through the turnstiles; yesterday it was over 50 minutes to go when I went through armed with some food. I can't remember when I was last inside the Turf so early.
Both sides had made changes up front; that was the news when the teams were announced. Fit again Sam Vokes came back in for us after he'd suffered a groin injury at Wolves four weeks ago. Preston had opted to give Will Keane a start. Without a league goal for them, maybe they just thought he could break his duck against his twin brother Michael.
Conditions were shocking with the swirling wind, but the pitch was fine as you would expect and certainly we got off to a good start. Dyche said it was our brightest start to a game all season and I couldn't disagree.
We were well on top. Balls came into the box from left and right but we just couldn't get that final touch and even Ben Mee got in on the act with a shot from the left which went just wide of the far post.
Preston did have a little spell during the first half. For around five minutes or so they put us under a bit of pressure and there were one or two scares in our box with one goal bound effort from Tom Clarke kept out only by a brilliant block from Tendayi Darikwa.
They were a horrible side. They niggled and broke up play and, for me, they targeted Joey Barton at times with some nastiness, often off the ball. It was a surprise that they didn't get a yellow card until three minutes before half time and when they did it was for a handball.
By then we should have been in front. North End keeper had kept them in it, particularly with one brilliant save to deny Vokes while Barton should have done better with a ball played across to him from Andre Gray.
Just a minute after that first yellow, right back Marnick Vermijl finally became the first Preston player carded for a foul and how on earth that didn't cost him dearly early in the second half only referee Kevin Friend will know.
As the players went in for half time I'd no real concerns. We were much the better side and I didn't think Preston had anything that would bother us unduly. I was confident that we'd come out and win the game in the second half.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be the case although there is absolutely no doubt that we should have been playing against ten men with less than seven minutes of the second half gone. Vermijl body checked Mee and I don't think you are likely to see such an offence anywhere all season go without a card, but referee Friend incredibly opted to speak to the captain and warn him rather than take the action he should have.
Admittedly he showed some consistency later in the game when he did the same with Barton but quite how he ever considered the card he gave the Burnley midfielder to be worthy of a card is hard to fathom.
We really struggled at times in the second half. At no time did we ever get on top as we did prior to the interval, but we still had two golden opportunities to go in front. A return to the old corner routine from a few years ago led to Gray having a free shot at goal but he fired wide and Vokes hit a shot straight at the goalkeeper when he looked a likely scorer.
Even then I didn't think we would pay as dearly for the misses as we did but not long past the hour we went behind with a really poor goal from our point of view with none of Vokes, Michael Duff or Tom Heaton coming out with too much credit.
Vokes lost possession in the centre circle and went down, but from that, Will Keane broke. With Duff pushing Michael Keane to pick up the other forward, Will breezed past Duff and shot through his twin brother's legs and under Heaton to give Preston the lead.
We changed both the wide men, firstly George Boyd and then Scott Arfield. I was surprised either of them had stayed on as long as they did. We then gave Matt Lowton a home debut as a replacement for Tendayi Darikwa, but five minutes from the end the points were going to Deepdale when Joe Garner set up Daniel Johnson for a second.
Overall it had been a very disappointing second half for us and the defeat has taken our run without a win to four games, but, for all the doom mongers who have seriously overreacted, this is only our third defeat of the season. We are still fifth in the league although admittedly the top two have moved a little bit further away from us.
It was, in the end, a bad day for us. I was cold when I got home and I've realised that one pair of shoes that I own aren't particularly good in wet conditions. Worse thought was the disappointment of losing the game.
We've a couple of tough away games coming up but hopefully we'll bounce back and put that top two back under some pressure before Charlton come to the Turf in two weeks time.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa (Matt Lowton 78), Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, George Boyd (Matt Taylor 71), Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield (Michael Kightly 77), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Stephen Ward, Dean Marney, Rouwen Hennings.
Yellow Cards: Joey Barton, Matt Lowton.
Preston: Jordan Pickford, Marnick Vermijl, Tom Clarke, Paul Huntingdon, Greg Cunningham, Daniel Johnson (John Welsh 90+5), Chris Browne, Paul Gallagher, Adam Reach, Will Keane (Jordan Hugill 79), Joe Garner. Subs not used: Chris Kirkland, Callum Woods, Josh Brownhill, Neil Kilkenny, Eoin Doyle.
Yellow Cards: Will Keane, Marnick Vermijl.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
Attendance: 18,614 (including 2,399 from Preston).
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