Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Adam Reach avoids a high boot from Cardiff centre-back Bruno Manga
Adam Reach avoids a high boot from Cardiff centre-back Bruno Manga
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While the defeat for Preston North End against Cardiff was disappointing, I don’t think it was the end of the world.

They have not lost too much ground in that little pack of clubs outside the ~
play-offs and with 12 games to go, there is still a lot of football to be played.

What was quite unusual was to concede two penalties in a game. After giving one penalty, some referees seem to be reluctant to give another unless it is an absolute stonewaller, which I believe the second for Cardiff was not.

Sometimes decisions go your way, sometimes not, and now North End have to put this defeat in Wales behind them.

They have been on a good run of late,– five unbeaten and four wins on the bounce is very impressive at most levels of the game.

They got that great victory over Sheffield Wednesday , then followed it up by beating Charlton last Tuesday night.

With how well they played against Wednesday, it was probably always going to be the case that Charlton would be a harder game than some people thought it would be.

Games against teams at the bottom of the league who have nothing to lose, can be tough.

There is an expectation to win and when the score is still level, frustration can grow.

Credit then for North End for getting past them and it was just unfortunate they could not extend the run to a sixth unbeaten run at the weekend.

When you look at the table, Preston are in that group of clubs who will be hoping to take advantage should a club or two drop out of the current top six.

I would say it is two from Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull City for automatic promotion, with the rest battling it out for the play-offs.

Being in that pack below the top six can be a good place to be – there is not as much pressure on them as there is on those currently occupying play-off places.

For North End to stay in that pack, they just need to dust themselves down and go again next week, see that as an opportunity to start another good run.

If they could bounce back with a win against Brighton, the Cardiff defeat will have been put quickly behind them.

It has been encouraging to see Callum Robinson come off the bench in the last two games to score.

He got the winner against Charlton and then Saturday’s consolation at Cardiff.

This is the third time the lad has been on loan with North End and it is clearly a club he feels at home at.

You could say it was the same for Paul Gallagher – he spent the best part of two seasons on loan from Leicester City before signing permanently.

Some players do well in loan spells, some don’t.

I only had two loans in my career, the first at Oldham from Leeds, then I went to Fleetwood from Oldham.

How a loan spell goes can depend a lot on your attitude.

You have to get your head down and give it your best shot, not just treat it as a month trying to get fit.

With both of my loans, I was desperate to get a regular game of football and I went determined to do well.

Things went really well at Oldham in that first loan and I had several clubs looking at me before I signed full-time.

Some lads who are loaned out from Premier League clubs can struggle because it is a big jump from Under-21s where the football is ‘you have, we have it’ to senior games where it really matters.