Simon Grayson confessed that too many of his Preston North End players had not ‘turned up’ in yesterday’s defeat to Brentford which laid to rest any fading hopes of them getting automatic promotion.
The Bees’ 1-0 victory at Griffin Park, given to them by a first-half penalty from Alan Judge, saw them clinch the second promotion spot behind Wolves.
Midfielder Judge, on loan from Blackburn, later put a second spot-kick over the bar during a tense finale.
North End’s performance was well below par, as they failed to force home keeper David Button into a save.
Lilywhites boss Grayson said: “We weren’t unfortunate to lose because we didn’t have enough players turn up to give Brentford a proper game.
“We didn’t want it to turn into a party and see them celebrate promotion but not enough players turned up to stop that happening.
“When you don’t turn up and produce performances with and without the ball, you can’t expect to win against anyone, let alone against a strong team looking for automatic promotion.
“Brentford had more urgency about them, passed the ball better and closed us down better. I don’t think we passed the ball to each other more than five times. Our ball retention was poor.
“I don’t think we were helped by the referee’s decisions which I thought were poor but I’m not going to start talking about the referee.
“It is about how we did and we need to affect games better in the future.
“Hopefully this is a wake-up call because we can’t just think we can turn up and produce performances of a high calibre. Sometimes if you turn up against a side lower down the division with five or six players off it, you can sneak a win.
“But when you have the number of players off it which we did yesterday, you aren’t going to get anything.”
Asked about the winning penalty, given against Bailey Wright for a foul on George Saville, Grayson said: “The first penalty was a dive, no one touched him. I saw it again at half-time and it wasn’t a penalty.”
While bitterly disappointed with the performance, Grayson did look at the bigger picture as he started the build-up to Monday’s clash with Shrewsbury at Deepdale.
He said: “I’m not going to get away from the fact as to how well we have done this season overall – this is only the sixth time that we have been beaten in the league.
“We have a quick turnaround, and as much as I’m frustrated with the players and they are frustrated with themselves, you can’t be too critical.
“Against Shrewsbury on Monday we have to get back to doing what we’re good at.
“We congratulate Brentford and hopefully we can be in celebration mode at the end of the season.”
North End were backed by a sell-out 1,657 travelling support on Gentry Day.
Grayson added: “You can’t say anything bad about our fans. They have been fantastic all season and I’m just disappointed we couldn’t celebrate yesterday in the manner we should have done.”