Preston North End’s play-off hopes were dealt a blow with their 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday.
Results elsewhere meant they didn’t lose any ground on the top six however with fifth-placed Derby next up at Deepdale on Easter Monday.
There will be twists and turns
Okay, who saw that one coming? Only Wolves had picked up more points on the road that PNE before Saturday and Wednesday’s home record is poor. It wasn’t a 4-1 game, two late goals adding some gloss to the scoreline for the hosts, but the Hillsborough clash was the Championship all over. Things rarely go to form so good luck to anyone predicting this play-off race.
It’s still all to play for
Defeats for Monday’s opponents Derby, a shock one at home to Sunderland, and Middlesbrough, mean that North End didn’t actually slip further away from the play-offs, the gap two points to fifth and sixth with seven games to play. Millwall, who continued their fine run with victory over Nottingham Forest, and Sheffield United, who drew at Brentford, did go above the Lilywhites in the table though meaning they sit 10th.
PNE can’t afford many more days like that
Yes, they got away with it in terms of the table but the poor play in both boxes can’t be replicated for the rest of the run in. Alex Neil immediately demanded a response from his side for what looks like a huge meeting with the Rams. He hinted at past experience having seen his Norwich and Hamilton sides slip up on their way to promotion. Was this just the jolt North End needed?
Moult’s goal a timely one
It’s not been straightforward for Louis Moult since his arrival at Deepdale but he got what all strikers need on Saturday, a first PNE goal. It was a nice move too, Callum Robinson’s flick finding another sub Daniel Johnson who squared for Moult to score. Yes, he couldn’t miss but such an immediate impact should give the former Motherwell man a real lift going forwards. He can still have a big role to play this season
Neil has decisions to make
The PNE bench on Good Friday was as strong as it has been for some time. Moult, Johnson and Josh Harrop were used while Chris Maxwell, Greg Cunningham, Tom Clarke and Billy Bodin watched on. After a disappointing display there’s certainly room to shuffle the pack should Neil desire against Derby. Everyone is likely to have to play their part before May 6.