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PNE in Numbers: Old cliché at the heart of Preston's problems so far this season

For all the talk of missing out on strengthening up top, Preston North End’s principal problem has become increasingly evident.

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Sitting at the foot of the Championship the Lilywhites have the leakiest defence in the second tier.

Preston's players are left down and out by Sheffield United's winner

Preston's players are left down and out by Sheffield United's winner

It’s a daunting prospect when division top scorers West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to Deepdale on Saturday.

The 18 goals conceded by Alex Neil’s men are coming at two a game.

Increasingly PNE look promising going forwards despite having notched just nine in the opening nine league games of the new season but the situation going in the other direction is unsustainable.

It’s not just the errors at the back that are a concern but also the timing of some of the goals being conceded.

An old cliche rings true - you’re at your most vulnerable when you’ve just scored.

On Tuesday night PNE led Middlesbrough twice before the were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties after a 2-2 draw in normal time.

Man of the moment Callum Robinson led the way for North End when he opened the scoring on 27 minutes but eight minutes later Boro were level through Ashley Fletcher.

In the second half the advantage was even shorter, there being just three minutes between Tom Barkhuizen and Marcus Tavernier’s strikes from distance.

Even against Sheffied United last time out in the Championship, the Lilywhites had seemingly done the hard work when they hauled themselves from 2-0 to level the game up late on.

But after Robinson and Daniel Johnson were on target it was just five minutes later that David McGoldrick popped up with a gut-wrenching winner.

In terms of specific periods of matches PNE’s most prolific period of games this season is the final 15 minutes of the first half which have yielded five goals.

It is also however the time frame where they have conceded the most, an indication of just how much more focus and concentration is needed.

Six of the goals against have also come in the final 15 minutes of games, something that will really frustrate Neil.

One thing that is delighting the PNE boss at the moment is the form of Callum Robinson.

After seven goals in the whole of last season the new Republic of Ireland international has four in his last five club games.

He is the only league ever-present and leads the way in minutes played on 890.

Robinson is simply far and away North End’s player of the season so far.