Greg Cunningham thinks there is plenty of time for PNE in top-six bid

Greg Cunningham admits that Preston are making a push for the play-offs ‘slightly harder for themselves’.

The Lilywhites suffered a rare defeat against Ipswich last Saturday, which came on the back of three draws.

North End stand-in skipper Greg Cunningham

North End stand-in skipper Greg Cunningham

Bearing that in mind, the stand-in PNE skipper knows that a run of wins is needed to close the gap.

With a dozen games left, it is still all to play for, the fight to claim sixth place looking like being an intense one.

Cunningham said: “There is still time but we are just making it slightly harder for ourselves.

“We have worked very hard to get into the position we are in and a win last weekend would have set us up nicely.

“We are just playing a small bit of catch-up at the moment.

“There is plenty of time to go but we’ve just got to make sure we are putting wins the board now.”

North End found the going tough in the Ipswich reverse, falling behind to a first-half goal and then failing to find a way through a solid visiting defence.

Cunningham played three different positions during the course of the game as Alex Neil swapped and changed in the pursuit of an equaliser.

“Teams come to Deepdale and set up in a rigid system,” said Cunningham.

“That doesn’t leave any space for us behind them.

“When we go away from home, the onus is on the home team to win the game.

“We tend to find space and get stuff on the counter-attack when that happens.

“Ipswich got an early goal against us and dropped into a well-drilled formation.

“There were no gaps, no space, Ipswich won their headers, got to the second ball and hooked it clear.

“They were camped in their own half for most of the second half, our lads up front were running around trying to close things down.

“We just found it hard to break them down and didn’t get the result we wanted.

“If we get the first goal in games, teams have to come out a lot more and play.”

North End make the trip to Bolton this weekend, looking to get back on a winning track.

The Ipswich loss was only the second defeat in 18, a run which has pushed them from mid-table in November to within sight of the top six.

A few too many draws in that run has held them back, although the 1-1 draws with Wolves and Aston Villa of late were very creditable.

Cunningham, who has been captaining the side in the absence of the injured Tom Clarke, said: “One defeat in 17 going into the Ipswich game was a good run considering how competitive this league is.

“We wanted to push on and unfortunately we didn’t, so the focus is on making sure we do that against Bolton.”