Preston North End boss Simon Grayson refused to be too downhearted with his side’s performance in Friday night’s home defeat to Burnley.
The Lilywhites were beaten 1-0 in front of a 17,789 crowd, Joey Barton’s deflected free-kick early in the contest giving the Clarets victory and sending them back to the top of the Championship.
North End were better for a change of formation after half an hour, Burnley bossing the game after they had scored.
They switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2, that preventing the visitors getting down the wings like they had been doing in the opening spell.
Grayson said: “Burnley will get behind you when they have got Andre Gray who is one of the quickest players in the division.
“We felt that going with a 3-5-2 we had to be very strong in the middle of the pitch given how their wide players come in off the line and make it an overload in there.
“The early goal disrupted us a little bit because if you can stay in the game with that system, then it gives you a chance.
“We were playing a team who have just gone back to the top of the league so we can’t have too many complaints about the way we performed because of what Burnley are and what they can potentially do.”
Grayson was looking for more quality from his side when they were on the attack, with them only working Burnley keeper Tom Heaton on a couple of occasions.
But he also had words for praise for Burnley’s back line.
“Whether it was a better ball in and missing the first man – that sort of thing – we needed to do that,” said Grayson.
“Their defenders have been good all season, Michael Keane and Ben Mee have helped them along the way to where they are.
“Everyone talks about Joey Barton, Sam Vokes and Andre Gray but their defenders do their jobs well and keep them in the game at times.”
The performance of referee Kevin Friend came in for criticism from supporters, the select group official booking eight players – three from PNE – and not allowing play to flow.
Grayson said: “It was frustrating for both sets of supporters and benches.
“For a Premier League referee, I wasn’t overly impressed with his performance.
“I know Kevin quite well, he is a good referee but it was frustrating for all of us.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was pleased with his side’s victory, a result which stretched their unbeaten league run to 21 games.
Dyche said: “I thought everybody played their part in a very thorough performance.
“That’s how I want the team to play, that’s almost an advert for it.
“I want us to defend properly, I want us to attack, I want us to mix our play, I want us to play longer, I want us to play through the thirds and we showed a good mixed performance.
“I think the only thing missing was that the scoreline wasn’t more.”