Preston North End’s label as a major scalp in League One this season is something the players will have to come to terms with very quickly.
That is the view of midfielder Alan Browne after North End suffered their second successive defeat on Tuesday night at Swindon Town.
Andy Williams’ late winner for the Robins condemned PNE and their supporters to a long and painful trip home from the County Ground.
The result – coupled with the 3-0 loss at Rochdale on Saturday – is particularly frustrating for North End after winning seven league games on the bounce previously.
That great run propelled them into an automatic promotion place.
And although they still hold a top-two spot, they have lost ground on leaders Bristol City, while the chasing pack below them has closed the gap.
“I think when everybody plays Preston, they up their game a bit because we are such a big club,” Browne said.
“Obviously we are up there at the top of the table competing and I think that lifts other teams even more when they see us doing so well.
“The main thing now is for us to try to put this result behind us and concentrate on our upcoming fixtures.
“Hopefully we can come back strongly and go on another run of wins which will give the fans something to shout about.”
Much has been made of North End’s demanding schedule in recent weeks.
Four out of their past five games have been away from home and they have had to contend with three particularly long journeys – to Gillingham, Leyton Orient and Swindon – on consecutive Tuesday nights.
Browne concedes that the hectic fixture list may be one reason behind the team’s disappointing results over the past two games.
“The preparation has been right and I think we have always gone into games feeling 100%,” Browne said.
“Nobody has been too fatigued but it could have had an effect on us.
“It could have been the difference on Tuesday night, especially when you see how close the game was.
“But I don’t think it’s a massive factor.
“I don’t think we can use it as an excuse.”
Browne came back into the starting XI for the trip to Swindon after spending the previous two games on the substitutes’ bench.
He is hoping his performance will be enough to maintain his place in the side for Monday night’s trip to Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup first round.
“It was good to come back into the side but it’s going to be tough to keep the shirt.
“There’s a lot of competition – especially in my position,” he said.
Meanwhile, Preston have been allocated 500 tickets for the trip to Havant and Waterlooville on Monday night and these went on sale yesterday.
The club is offering discounted travel for supporters, which means a ticket and a coach place will cost only £20 for adults and £15 for concessions. Tickets for terracing are priced £12 for adults and £8 for concessions.