Sean Gregan’s exclusive column

Jermaine Beckford celebrates as Preston pull a goal back against Newcastle at Deepdale
Jermaine Beckford celebrates as Preston pull a goal back against Newcastle at Deepdale
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Two games against Newcastle in five days, two defeats but two totally different displays from Preston North End in the games.

PNE were unfortunate not to get at least a point out of the league game at Deepdale on Saturday, with them pushing the Magpies all the way and by the sounds of it, having two big shouts for penalties turned down.

It does seem to happen that you sometimes don’t get the rub of the green with referees when you play the bigger clubs.

I have experienced that both ways – getting decisions when playing for the bigger club and not getting them when the underdog.

Referees will always tell you that it is not like that, but sometimes teams with a big support and a manager who has been at clubs all around the world, they get the luck in their favour.

Saturday’s performance was a good response to the 6-0 defeat last Tuesday night.

Going up to St James’ Park and playing a lot of squad players was always going to make things very difficult.

The red card for Alan Browne killed the game in many respects and Preston ended-up on the end of a right old thumping.

I think you can feed squad players into a team in ones and twos but to put nine in at once is difficult.

Newcastle’s squad is clearly a lot stronger than many others in the Championship, in fact it is the strongest.

They have tried to do what a lot of Premier League clubs do, getting two players of very similar quality for each position.

To have a £13m striker in Aleksandar Mitrovic ready to come in and replace Dwight Gayle, is not a bad position to be in.

North End could have been rather fearful of having to play Newcastle again, so soon after a six-goal defeat.

Clearly though, they put that to the back of their minds, picked the strongest team, and put in a display which very nearly got them something and probably should have done.

It was great to see the size of the crowd – 20,724 – which was the biggest for a league game at Deepdale for quite some time.

There were 5,600 Magpies supporters in the crowd but it was a very decent turn out of Preston fans.

Although North End lost, hopefully some of those fans will have been impressed with the fighting display and will come back.

Deepdale is a great place to play at when there is a big crowd, it generates a really good atmosphere.

The Newcastle game was the last one in October and it has been a good month for PNE.

At the end of September, you could have looked at the fixture list with plenty of trepidation, with games to come against Aston Villa, Brighton, Huddersfield, Norwich and then Newcastle twice. Apart from Villa, all those teams were in the top four when North End played them.

So to come out with 10 points from the 15 on offer, is a more than decent return.

The one blip was the cup defeat but I don’t think that should overshadow the results in the league.

Preston’s aim now is to build on October’s results.

They go to Rotherham next and must approach that game with exactly the same type of attitude they had for Villa, Brighton, Huddersfield, Norwich and Newcastle.

Rotherham are struggling but they have a new manager and will be battling for the points.