GRAEME ATKINSON COLUMN

Jack King battles with Jon Stead during PNE's 2-1 home defeat
Jack King battles with Jon Stead during PNE's 2-1 home defeat
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Having seen a lot of Preston’s games this season and being impressed with them, the performance in the defeat to Bradford City was quite a disappointing one.

First things first, Bradford came and set their stall out to make things very difficult for North End. The Bradford manager, Phil Parkinson, will have been really pleased with his side’s performance and I thought they executed their game plan very well.

They are a big, physical side and in Jon Stead and James Hanson, they have two good strikers with plenty of experience who made things very difficult for an unsettled Preston back four.

I think that Simon Grayson has got some work to do in getting the balance right at the back and getting his defenders playing consistently well.

In the second half he made the change in bringing Tom Clarke into the middle and pushing Jack King more out to the right.

He felt that Clarke would cope better with Stead and that did happen, because PNE were better in the second half after that change.

In the last 15 minutes, they threw caution to the wind chasing the equaliser,

They got the equaliser from Joe Garner but unfortunately then turned off and Bradford scored their winner.

It was a superb strike from Yeates, a great finish but he had a lot of space to bring the ball down and pick his spot.

The way in which the game had panned out before the equaliser, a point would have been good for Preston.

It is just a shame that they lost a bit of concentration and Bradford got their second.

In the first half, Bradford had been the better side and used their strengths well.

Their right-winger, Filipe Morais, caught my eye. It was the first time for a while that I had seen someone give David Buchanan a good go.

When he’s been in the side this season, Buchanan has always come out on top in his battle with the opposition winger on that side – he has performed very well.

But Morais was nifty and provided some good quality.

In terms of Preston trying to get back into the game, they huffed and puffed during the second half, without really showing the quality we have seen in other games.

I would not say it is back to the drawing board now, rather it being a case of North End settling down again and working to get themselves on another good run.

Getting a settled back four is important, while they have got players in abundance in midfield who have shown they can create chances.

One talking point from the game is whether Garner up front needs a bit of company?

It is asking a lot of him to win the ball in the air – which he does superbly – and then to get to the knock-downs himself. He probably does need a partner to work with at times.

The 4-2-3-1 system which Preston like to use is one where you play through the midfield.

Against Bradford, they did not really get much chance to go that way.

That is why I thought that Chris Humphrey was a bit unlucky to be taken off near the end. I thought that he was PNE’s most dangerous player.

He was delivering crosses from deep near the byline which got them in behind Bradford.

That was something which was needed as everything through the middle was being snuffed out.