The first game of the Tony Pulis era ended in a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Preston this afternoon.
Our cause wasn’t helped by a red card for Josh Windass after just 17 minutes for a reckless and totally unnecessary high-footed challenge on Joseph Rafferty and we failed to get an effort on target in the 90 minutes, while Preston managed just one and that was enough to earn them victory.
With bottom club Derby losing at Bristol City, we remain one place above them on six points and separated by goal difference. Wycombe stay one position ahead of us on eight points after a 0-0 draw against Brentford, with Coventry in 21st on nine points.
In a poor game providing little entertainment, the only goal came just after half time when the recalled Keiren Westwood’s weak punched clearance dropped to Tom Barkhuizen and he volleyed home in style from the edge of the box.
Adam Reach had fired over at the far post early on but then came that Windass sending off which, arguably, had a big influence on the outcome of the game.
Massimo Luongo saw a shot defected into the side netting just after the half-hour mark while Preston might have had a penalty when Scott Sinclair went down in the box from a Liam Palmer challenge.
Then, after no shots on target from either side in the first 45, Barhuizen took just two minutes of the second half to break the deadlock with that fine volley.
After that, apart from a chance for Moses Odubajo that he dragged wide, we never looked like getting back on level terms.
Preston, who fared little better for most of the match, might have increased the lead in the closing minutes, Daniel Johnson shooting just wide from the edge of the box and Paul Gallagher firing narrowly over the top with a 25-yard free kick.
Westwood, Odubajo (Rhodes 74), Borner, Lees, Van Aken, Palmer, Bannan, Luongo (Pelupessy 61,) Reach, Paterson (Brown 81), Windass. Unused subs. Wildsmith, Hunt, Penney, Kachunga, Dele-Bashiru, Shaw.