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PNE on the back foot

Preston North End's Manager Graham Westley felt his side took a step back in their 2-1 loss to Tranmere Rovers

Preston North End's Manager Graham Westley felt his side took a step back in their 2-1 loss to Tranmere Rovers

Graham Westley admitted that Preston North End had taken ‘a little step back’ in their progress following last night’s 2-1 defeat to Tranmere Rovers.

After taking an early lead through Graham Cummins, North End quickly let their hosts back into the game through an Enoch Showunmi equaliser.

Andy Robinson fired home Tranmere’s winner in the 71st minute, with Westley’s side offering little attacking threat in the second half.

It spelt disappointment for the 802 travelling PNE fans who voiced their displeasure at the final whistle, their side now having just once in the 10 games under Westley.

Cummins’ goal was North End’s first for 423 minutes of football – the former Cork City striker had scored their last one at Sheffield United last month.

He said: “We’d taken a couple of steps forward in the previous two games against Chesterfield and Scunthorpe.

“But I think there was a little step back in the second half last night.

“We started the game brightly enough with some good attacking football.

“It was a good goal to score from a set piece and it was nice to see Cummins on the scoresheet.

“But then it was disappointing to concede the equaliser in the manner we did.

“In the second half, Tranmere showed more fight for the win than we did, which wasn’t pleasing.

“When you are going through a tough learning phase like we are, there will be moments like this.

“You think you are taking steps forward, then you get a knock which sets you back.

“There were one or two positives – it was a good set piece move for our goal and it’s nice to see something from the training pitch transfer to a game.

“What was disappointing was the speed in which they equalised, while the defending wasn’t the best for their winner – it being the second phase after a set piece.

“We should have dealt with that better.

“My focus is now on winning the next game at Exeter on Saturday.

“There are no easy games in this division, and we’ll have to show a fair amount of resilience there.

“We didn’t show enough attacking flair in the second half last night, so that’s something to improve on.”

Westley is confident he will turn the results around at North End, and draws on strength he got from a conversation with former PNE boss David Moyes soon after his appointment.

He said: “I remember talking to David when I got the job, and he remarked it was going to be like turning an oil-tanker around.

“This was never going to be an easy job with inheriting so many players and with the club having lost a lot of games.

“There’s a lot of work to be done and we’re going to have to be patient.

“I understand that the fans are frustrated, I would be if I’d been supporting a great club like this and they’d got the amount of points they had.”

Midfielder Paul Coutts missed last night’s game with a slight thigh strain, but is likely to be back for the Exeter game.

Said Westley: “Paul came back into the side and has played quite a few games close together, so it just put a little bit of a strain on him.

“We’re hoping he will be alright for Saturday.”

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