PNE fan John Roper has his say on the 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday
A harsh reminder that there are no easy games in the Championship as North End went down to a crushing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday.
I thought the scoreline flattered the hosts a little but with North End being delinquent at both ends of the park the Owls took full advantage and left North End licking their wounds ahead of a massive game at Deepdale on Monday against Derby.
The game hinged on two North End missed chances, one a header by Ben Davies on the stroke of half time and the other being a miss from Sean Maguire after North End had pulled it back to 2-1. Had either of those chances gone in I think we would be writing a different story to the outcome of this game.
North End took the initiative right from the off and played much the better football without being able to land that final ball to create the chances.
Paul Gallagher and Ben Pearson had total control in midfield and for 25 minutes there really was only one team in the game. Wednesday came back into it later on but North End had a chance early on through Tom Barkhuizen and a header from Paul Huntington that went just over the angle of the goal.
Barry Bannan was the chief play maker for the home side and you wonder just where they would have been without him in the first half. The Davies chance right on the break came from a free kick that was headed on but at that point I don't think anybody could have guessed what sort of impact on the game that miss would have.
After the break it was a completely different ball game as Sheffield came out refreshed and with new found vigour.
Within five minutes they were in the lead when a ball from the right found Atdhe Nuhiu and he slotted home.
Within two minutes the home side doubled their lead when Bannan hit a perfectly weighted long ball for Lucas Joao to head over Declan Rudd and into the net.
North End wobbled for a few minutes but fought their way back via a very well worked goal from Louis Moult. Suddenly it was all Preston again but the second wouldn't come and we were left ruing missed chances, and Maguire's in particular.
Nuhiu added insult to injury late on when awful defending on our left allowed the big striker to get in a shot that beat Rudd at the far post. A trademark Fernando Forestieri free kick in added time completed North End`s misery and we were left reflecting on what might have been had we put our chances away.
It will be Alex Neil`s biggest managerial test of the season to get the boys up after a soul destroying defeat just when it looked like we were about to make a serious play off assault.
I suspect there will be two or three changes for the Derby game with the manager likely to freshen things up after a somewhat patchy and stale performance in South Yorkshire.
Lady Luck was with us, though, as most of the other results went our way and we now have a huge chance to put things right after this performance. The 1,496 fans that travelled stayed will the boys right to the end and if the home fans can do that on Monday then this season in not over by a long chalk.
We can still do it but we need to put things right and very quickly starting on Easter Monday with Derby.