PNE v Derby: Three things we learned

Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford goes for goal against Derby.
Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford goes for goal against Derby.
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Adam Lord takes a look at Preston North End’s 1-0 defeat to Derby on Tuesday night.

Things are coming together

PNE may be without a point this season but this was the best performance of the campaign thus far. After a shaky start North End grew into the game and will rightly feel they should have got at least one point on the board to get things up and running. Simon Grayson’s side played some eye-catching football in the final third at times even if there was still a lack of end product with Scott Carson rarely tested at Deepdale on Tuesday night. Going in the other direction there was also a bit more bite from PNE, with most conceding pre-match that they had been too easy to play against in their opening two games. Grayson’s men were more combative and pressed Derby nice and high. There are positives but promising displays will only get you so far. Points are needed sooner rather than later.

Callum Robinson offers something different

Robinson’s goal, a surprise header after coming off the bench against Fulham, saw him handed a start playing off the left. The former Aston Villa youngster thrived, relishing the chance to beat a man whenever he could and also coming the closest to breaking the deadlock for North End in the first half with a fizzing shot that was kept out by Carson. He certainly offers Grayson something different with his flair and pace. Overall, PNE’s midfield looked better set-up than on Saturday where four central players were squeezed into a flat four. Paul Gallagher shifted into the centre with Daniel Johnson the man to miss out.

PNE need to be more careful with the ball

For all the positives on Tuesday night North End gifted the ball away in dangerous areas far too often. Gallagher and Robinson did it early on while Greg Cunningham nearly let Derby have a free run at goal in the second period. It was more by luck than good judgement that North End weren’t more severely punished. That wasn’t to say PNE didn’t play some slick football because they did, arguably their best of the season so far, but decision making in the middle and defensive thirds will need to improve.