Preston North End 0-2 Middlesbrough: Player Ratings

Declan Rudd7.5
The prestonupdates.com MOTM. This may seem odd considering PNE shipped two goals, but Rudd kept the scoreline respectable with a series of smart stops. He proved that a new goalkeeper is not the priority in this transfer window.

Darnell Fisher6.2
It was great to see Fisher back in place of Clarke, but the right back was not so effective going forward. With 88 touches, Fisher was clearly a frequently used outlet by Preston, but despite making 16 crosses, only 3 were accurate. A competent performance, but it could have been better.

Patrick Bauer5
Bauer was thrust back into the side by manager Alex Neil, who later admitted it was the wrong decision. The towering German was not his dominant self and played a part in Boro’s opening goal. He definitely needs more time to recover and this was why he was withdrawn at half time.

Ben Davies5
An uncharacteristic mistake ended the game for Preston, when Davies let the ball slip under his foot before stretching and touching it beyond Rudd and into the corner. A costly error and an afternoon to forget for the centre half who lost 6 duels and 6 aerial battles.

Andrew Hughes6
The Welshman was only marginally better than his defensive partners. Hughes didn’t do enough going forward, but won more than he lost in defence.

Ben Pearson6.2
The game bypassed Ben Pearson far too often and although he was the most accurate passer on the pitch (93%), he didn’t control the tempo like he usually does.

Paul Gallagher6.5
Gallagher returned to the side and made the biggest contribution with the most passes in the match (59) and the highest number of touches for the home side (101). It often seemed like Gallagher was the only one trying to force the issue, particularly in the first half. But his three efforts on goal in the first 45 were more likely to land on Blackpool Road than hit the back of the net. A frustrating afternoon for the elder statesman.

Alan Browne6.2
Against a resolute Boro backline, Browne struggled to influence the game and contributed nothing to Preston’s attack. Replaced by Stockley shorty after half time it was a quiet afternoon for the Irish international who needs to recapture the form he showed at Elland Road.

Tom Barkhuizen6.5
Had Preston’s best chance in the first half, with a snapshot at a narrow angle which Pears pushed away for a corner. Other than a couple of quality crosses and two successful dribbles, Barkhuizen wasn’t daring enough with the ball and failed to stretch the opposition. Arguably better when played up front.

Seani Maguire5
The number of starts Seani Maguire has been gifted this season is becoming criminal. I know it’s meant to be the season of goodwill, but Alex Neil must drop the Irishman before the crowd turns on him. The attacker’s desire and energy appears to have been sapped this season. Josh Ginnelly and Andre Green must be wondering what the hell they have to do to get even 10 minutes on the pitch.

David Nugent6
A veteran striker up front on his own against one of the best defensive sides in the division was destined to fail. Only Leeds United have kept more clean sheets than Woodgate’s Middlesbrough and it showed. Not for lack of effort, Nugent offered nothing against the red wall from the North East.

Substitutes:

Paul Huntington6
Thrown on at the interval, Huntington put in an average second half display. The veteran lost most of his battles today against a powerful side that hit hard on the counter.

Jayden Stockley6.4
In just 14 touches Jayden Stockley showed more promise than most on the pitch, but the game was already over just four minutes after his introduction. A couple of neat flick ons along with an effort on goal, but not a lot else to shout about.

Josh Harrop6.2
After failing to make an impact in his first start against Reading since October 1st, Josh Harrop was relegated to the bench this afternoon. The Manchester United academy product found the back of the net in the second half, but his strike was ruled out for a foul in the build-up. According to Fotmob, Harrop won the most tackles in the match (4), despite touching the ball a mere 18 times. He got stuck in, but couldn’t inspire a comeback.