Key talking points from Preston North End's miserable defeat to Luton Town
It was the poorest display of the season, PNE manager Alex Neil questioning whether it was the worst of his time in charge in terms of competitiveness – or rather a lack of it.
Here are some of the talking points the clash in Bedfordshire produced.
1: Inconsistency continues to dog PNE. How does a side which wins so impressively at Bournemouth less than a fortnight ago and indeed beats Middlesbrough just a few days ago, turn in a display as miserable as this?
Granted, PNE had two or three chances early on and we could have been reading a different story had one of those gone in.
Luton’s opening goal had such a big effect on the game though, too much in fact.
North End have come back from conceding before but this seemed to knock the stuffing out of them right away. While Paul Huntington did misread the flight of the ball over the top, it was a good finish from James Collins who went on to score a hat-trick.
2: Defence is leaking. Fresh from keeping a clean sheet against Middlesbrough, the three goals shipped at Luton means North End have the leakiest defence in the Championship with 28 in the goals against column.
Ten of those have come in the last three defeats,3-0 to Blackburn, 4-1 at Watford and now this 3-0 reverse.
The centre of defence is an area which will need work in January, with Patrick Bauer out for the season. Ben Davies’ contract saga will be a worry, while Jordan Storey needs to regain a touch of confidence which seems to have been lost of late.
He didn’t look comfortable after replacing Huntington at half-time.
We do know that North End can defend, they have clean sheets to their name this season, now is the time for a few more.
3: No away goals. For the first time this season, PNE didn’t score on their travels.
They are the highest scorers on the road in the Championship this season, netting 18 times – they put four past Brentford, three into the nets of Reading and Bournemouth.
Jayden Stockley struggled to make much stick up front as the lone striker, Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen unable to get into the game.
The introductions of Emil Riis and Sean Maguire in the second half had little impact.
4: Welcome back to fans. There were 2,000 Hatters supporters in the ground for this game, Luton being in a Tier 2 area.
It a strange way it was nice to hear the PNE players booed when they came out to warm-up and then Declan Rudd’s goalkicks jeered in the time-honoured fashion, it was a step back to a semblance of normality.
Hopefully Lancashire can be placed in Tier 2 at some stage in the near future which would allow fans in at Deepdale That is very much in the hands of others.
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