Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Preston winger Tom Barkhuizen is tackled by QPR skipper Massimo Luongo
Preston winger Tom Barkhuizen is tackled by QPR skipper Massimo Luongo

Playing against 10 men can be as tough as facing a full 11, as we saw when Preston left it late to beat QPR.

The mind-set of both teams changes when there is a red card, especially when it comes quite early on.

From the moment Jamie Mackie was sent off in the first half at Deepdale, QPR will have thought, ‘Have what you hold’.

Their approach was to be solid, play with two banks of four and plug the gaps.

Right away the pressure is ramped up on the team with a full set of players, they are expected to make the extra man count and win the game.

If a side with 10 men keeps its shape and doesn’t commit much forward, they are damned hard to break down.

In training, managers will put on sessions which cover both eventualities.

Teams learn how to play with 10 men, when to be solid and when to play on the break. You go 4-4-1 or maybe 5-3-1, you frustrate, you close down, you sit in.

Alternatively, with 11 men you will work on overloads, making your extra man count.

It might be that you don’t need four at the back, one of your defenders can push up a bit higher into midfield.

Credit to North End on Saturday for keeping going, however frustrating it must have been as the minutes went by.

In the end it took a fine pass from Paul Gallagher to send Jordan Hugill clear and he pushed the ball under the QPR goalkeeper.

That is what you want from your striker, the 
ability to take a chance like that when opportunities have perhaps been few and far between.

It was good to see Hugill back on the scoresheet after a few games without a goal.

The lad works hard up front on his own, linking play and trying to bring others into the game.

But it is goals which front men get judged on and this is another for Hugill.

It is inevitable that there will be speculation over his future in January, as there was for much of the summer transfer window.

Hopefully, North End can persuade him to see it out until the end of the season.

It might have been that they had that chat with him in August when the bids were coming in and being turned down.

However, every player has his price and if a huge offer comes in, there might be no alternative but to accept it.

Just going back to the red card for Mackie, it seemed to be the follow through to his tackle on Tom Clarke which led to the red card.

Paul Pogba got a red too in Manchester United’s win at Arsenal, again seemingly for where his foot landed after making the tackle.

Anything where your studs are showing or your foot is slightly raised, you are on thin ice.

If I was playing now, I would probably be getting a red card every week.

I always went in hard to win the ball but never to hurt anyone.

Nowadays you’ve got to be so careful making a tackle and think about where your foot is going to land.