Four talking points from Preston North End's 3-1 defeat to Queens Park Rangers
Preston North End have gone off the boil at the wrong time in their play-off push, Queens Park Rangers inflicting a fourth defeat in five games.
The Lilywhites made a good start at Deepdale with Daniel Johnson giving them the lead from the spot.
QPR hit back to score three times, two of the goals coming after Geoff Cameron’s red card had seen them reduced to 10 men.
Here are four of the talking points from the 3-1 defeat.
1. PNE are finding goals hard to come by of late, scoring only three in the last five matches – two of them from the penalty spot.
Sean Maguire twice hit the woodwork as his drought in front of goal spread into a third month.
Jayden Stockley coming off the bench to partner Maguire later in the game brought little joy.
The squad has been light of a striker since Louis Moult was injured in August, with the choices for Alex Neil up front being limited to Maguire, Stockley or David Nugent – they’ve scored seven goals between them.
Tom Barkhuizen has played as a striker and done well but tends to be more effective playing wide.
While players scoring from other positions has to be applauded, more goals are needed through the middle.
2. PNE’s formation switch in the second half didn’t have the desired affect.
When QPR had Geoff Cameron sent-off, they went 4-3-2 which was an attacking system with 10 men.
Neil explained later that he switched to 3-5-2 to try and get the better of that.
The three at the back was to deal with the visitors’ two strikers, with PNE making it a 3 v 3 fight in midfield.
He went for wing-backs to try and draw out QPR’s full-backs.
Barkhuizen moving to the left after working well on the right didn’t work but it was surprising to see him come off towards the end.
3. Paul Gallagher was an influential figure for PNE, that showing as much when he went off as when he was on the pitch.
He was drafted back into the side after illness and played alongside Alan Browne in midfield.
A lot of play went through him, Gallagher helped build the play from deep.
When he went off with a tight calf muscle, North End lost that presence and a bit of nous.
QPR scored their second and third goals once Gallagher had exited the action. Ryan Ledson came on between the second and third goals to try and plug the gap in midfield.
4. North End’s goal from the penalty spot set a new club record.
It was the 10th penalty scored this season, more than in any campaign.
Johnson has put all six he’s taken into the net, with Gallagher scoring four of the five he’s taken – he netted on the rebound against Luton in December.
DJ is now on 11 goals for the season, all of them in the Championship.
Barkhuizen has the same number but two of them were in the Carabao Cup.