Preston North End defender apologises to fans after Middlesbrough thumping

The defender's return to the team came in a bruising 4-0 defeat at Middlesbrough
Andrew HughesAndrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes

Andrew Hughes' return to the Preston North End starting lineup was 'bittersweet' - and the Welshman apologised to fans for Tuesday night's 4-0 loss to Middlesbrough.

Ryan Lowe's men were torn apart by Michael Carrick's side in the first half, with Isaiah Jones netting twice and Rav van den Berg also grabbing a goal. Alex Bangura added insult to injury in second half additional time, with Preston well beaten and going home empty handed.

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North End's defence were wide open and Boro had three or four golden opportunities to score more goals than they did. Hughes pulled no punches over the performance when speaking post-match and felt for the 400 or so fans who made the trip over to Teesside.

"It didn't happen from start to finish," said Hughes. "We had a good chance to bounce back from the defeat to Cardiff, but it just wasn't good enough. The only positive outlook is that we gave a game on Friday to put it right, which is what our mindset has to be. We need to stay in games, we cannot get too loose and just come out of our positions - making it easy for teams to just play around us and expose us.

"We had a game plan and didn't execute it: simple as that. It's purely down to the players tonight, we just were not good enough. The game plan was there and it didn't get executed. We made them look like the Boro from last year. They are not the team they were last year and we knew that coming into this game, but we made them look good.

"It's a bit of a raw one at the minute. We are a better team than that. Hopefully we can put it down as a blip, clear out minds and look forward to Friday. I can only apologise (to the fans). For them to have made that journey on a cold Tuesday night, it's not a good one for them to come and witness. I can only apologise for that and hopefully we can repay them on Friday."

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On a personal note, Hughes made his first start since September 30th. The Welshman is pleased to be back from the calf injury which sidelined him for several weeks, though the circumstances could've been far better. He is keen to get midweek defeat out of his system as quickly as he can.

"I am glad to be back, but it's a bittersweet one for me," said Hughes. "All on my mind now is disappointment for the time being. The focus is on Friday. It's difficult, because you've got the bus journey back and it's disappointing. You've got the fans travelling home and you spare a thought there. It's a tough one, but we need to get rid of this game quickly and move on from it."

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