PNE in Numbers: How many points will be needed to make the play-offs?

Fulham reached the play-offs with 80 points last season and currently sit third in the table.
Fulham reached the play-offs with 80 points last season and currently sit third in the table.

We’re officially at the sharp end of things.

WATCH: Alex Neil's pre-Reading press conference
With six games to go there’s still a top six place up for grabs, a situation most Preston fans would have been happy with at the start of the season.

It is the time of year when focus is as much on results elsewhere as it is on North End’s showing any particular Saturday or Tuesday night.

No more so was that in evidence over the Easter weekend as Alex Neil’s side slipped to back-to-back defeats but only fell a point further adrift of the play-off places.

The gap stands at just three ahead of the trip to Reading on Saturday, the Lilywhites finding themselves towards the back of the chasing pack in 10th.

PNE have amassed 60 points from their first 40 games, two shy of what they picked up in each of the last two seasons when they finished 11th under Simon Grayson.

As we enter the make or break stage just what will it take for PNE to extend their season beyond the meeting with Burton at Deepdale on May 6?

Last season, Fulham took sixth spot with 80 points, finishing five points clear of Leeds in seventh.

With 18 points left to play for that isn’t a total that Neil’s men can reach but it is the highest in recent seasons, just 68 were needed by Leicester to reach the top six at the end of the 2012-13 season.

At the end of the 2015-16 season Sheffield Wednesday took the final play-off place with 74 points.

The finish 12 months earlier might perhaps represent the closest equivalent to the present day in the sense that it was really, really tight.

Three teams finished on 78 points, fifth-placed Brentford, Ipswich in sixth and Wolves who missed out on goal difference in seventh.

Derby were a point back in eighth with there then a 10-point cushion to Blackburn in ninth.

Also in 2013-14, Wigan finished fifth on 73 with Brighton in sixth with 72 and Saturday’s opponents Reading seventh on 71. Blackburn were eighth with 70 points as things also went down to the wire.

As things stand currently, Middlesbrough are sixth on 63 with Bristol City, Millwall and Sheffield United in seventh, eighth and ninth on 62.

PNE next on 60 while Brentford are two points further back on 58.

You’ll win a lot of money if you can predict the outcome correctly with plenty of twists and turns likely along the way.

First things first, North End need to stay in the hunt when they head to the Madejski Stadium.