PNE skipper doesn’t pull his punches

John Welsh under pressure from Stephen Dawson at Spotland

John Welsh under pressure from Stephen Dawson at Spotland

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John Welsh has held his hand up on behalf of the Preston North End team and admitted they did not meet their high standards in the defeat to Rochdale.

The PNE skipper delivered an honest assessment of the 3-0 reverse at Spotland, one which brought a disappointing end to their eight-game winning sequence.

They were second best to their hosts for key stages of the contest and that condemned them to a first defeat since September 13.

Welsh said: “It was a poor performance, we all know that. We have set ourselves high standards this season and have met those standards in the majority of games.

“At Rochdale we did not meet the standard and I don’t think anyone can hold their head up with too much credit.

“We will evaluate the game, speak about it and try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“The gaffer told us in the dressing room afterwards that we had come off a really good run and to remember that.

“What might be a blessing is that we have the Swindon game straight away.

“In my time at the club we have tended to respond well to bad results and performances, which shows the character in the squad.

“A phrase I have heard a couple of times is that good teams don’t lose two games on the run.

“So we go to Swindon with a point to prove to the fans, to the manager, to the staff and to each other.

“Hopefully we will learn from what happened against Rochdale.

“We will have to be ‘on it’ at Swindon as they are a good team and no way can we afford a repeat of Saturday.

“If we match them for work rate, passion and spirit, we then have the players who can create chances.

“What we must remember is that we had been doing very well until the weekend.

“At the moment we are in a spell of a lot of away games but if we can come through them with a decent number of points, we will be in a very healthy position.

“The aim is to be in the top two leading into Christmas, which is an important spell.

“We have a good spirit, we always get great backing from the fans and we want to give something back to them.

“The following at Rochdale was brilliant and the fact we gave them that performance when so many had travelled was disappointing.”

Joe Garner saw a header hit the bar in the 18th minute with the score 0-0, before two goals in a three-minute spell put the home side in charge.

PNE looked to be finding their way back into the game during a promising spell after half-time.

But they were caught out in the 61st minute by a long goalkick from Dale keeper Conrad Logan which led to Matthew Done stealing in for their third goal.

Garner saw a penalty saved by Logan later on to cap off a miserable afternoon.

Said Welsh: “The big thing that I have learned from this division is the importance of the first goal. It’s massive.

“Had Joe’s header gone in early on rather than hit the bar, then it would have been a totally different game.

“We need to learn that if we go 1-0 down then we have to keep solid and not give the other team any chances.

“Against Rochdale, 1-0 quickly became 2-0. At half-time we reminded ourselves what had happened against Fleetwood but then we got caught out by a long ball.”