The 4 talking points from Preston North End's 1-0 loss to Derby County

Preston North End failed to mark their 5,000th league game with a positive result as Derby County got the better of them in PR1.

By Tom Sandells
Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 9:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 9:14 pm

Wayne Rooney scored from a free kick in the first half and it was enough secure the win for the Rams, who continue their league-leading form since the former England captain arrived.

Here are the four talking points from the defeat.

1. There were positives and bright sparks

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Josh Harrop alongside former Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney.

Although it was another disappointing display on the whole and another disappointing result, it wasn't all bad.

Alex Neil rung the changes, no less than five, and gave chances to those that had been knocking on the door.

Of those to come in: Paul Huntington, Joe Rafferty, Paul Gallgher, Brad Potts and David Nugent; a couple made a claim for a regular starting berth.

Rafferty came in at right back, not at left back where we have become most accustomed to seeing him, and did a solid jon.

You generally know what you're going to get for the former Rochdale man, he puts everything in and is reliable in defence - it was no different against the Rams.

Potts also added to his stock. He has looked sharp and energetic on his return to action and delivered a couple of inviting crosses that needed intervention.

Seeing those two retain their places for the trip to Huddersfield would not dishearten North Enders.

Josh Harrop also injected energy and craft from the bench, unfortunate to miss out according to his manager, calls from fans for him to start will only get louder.

2. Key away games coming up as gap remains at four

Without picking up points tonight, the gap to the play-offs has remained at four from Cardiff City who still occupy sixth.

Derby have leapfrogged PNE and are now another side who stand above them on points.

With home advantage no longer actually being an advantage, the two upcoming away games may hold promise for the Lilywhites.

The performance at Luton Town has been the best one so far and released from the North West, they may again find a little more fluidity.

It's back to back trips to Yorkshire, with Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday up next.

Huddersfield will come into Saturday's game with momentum, having beaten Birmingham City 3-0 last time out but North End's upturn in form has to start somewhere.

3. The Derby hoodoo continues

The defeat to Derby will not come as a shock to those with an eye on the record books.

North End's last win in this fixture game on Boxing Day back in 2008, Sean St Ledger and Jon Parkin scoring the goals.

Since then the two sides have met 14 times, North End managing a draw on four of those occasions whilst falling to defeat in 10.

Needless to say, Alex Neil is yet to get the better over the Pride Park side in his time as PNE boss, and suffered his first defeat at the club at their hands.

4. 5,000 games is still a proud moment despite the loss

To reach 5,000 games is still testament to the long and proud history of Preston North End Football Club, the first club in the country to reach that milestone.

Although that feat may not have been appreciated the same outside of PR1 as it was in it, it is still a proud moment for North End fans.

The TV coverage preferred a montage of Wayne Rooney over giving the 5,000th game the time it deserved and the game itself may not live long in the memory, but the occasion is a part of a long and proud history that will go on.