Exclusive Sean Gregan Preston North End column: Another unbeaten run is the answer!
Although Preston’s unbeaten run has come to an end, they should be very proud of it and use it as motivation to go on another good run.
Twelve games without a defeat at any level of football is difficult and to do it in the Championship takes plenty of doing.
It would have been great to extend the run to 13 matches at Reading but alas it wasn’t to be.
To concede a second goal so soon after going behind was a sucker punch and it is hard to recover from that. During the unbeaten run there were only a couple of times when they fell behind and had to chase the game.
PNE came from behind at Middlesbrough and the first game of the run at home to Swansea City.
It just goes to show how important scoring first can often be.
Having to chase two goals at the Madejski Stadium just proved a step too far.
At least North End didn’t stop trying to find a way back, the fact they scored in time added on showing they didn’t see it as a lost cause.
What this result means is that Alex Neil’s men have a really big week ahead of them. They are playing three of the division’s big-hitters in Sheffield United, Leeds and West Bromwich Albion.
I would wager that they need seven points out of those games to really be in contention for the top six.
It’s a lot to ask against three teams above you in the table but it’s a challenge the whole of the squad and the manager will relish.
You would rather be after seven points to try and get in the play-offs than need seven points to escape relegation, so Preston should look to enjoy these games.
The weight of expectation might not be on them as it is with the other clubs up there in the table.
You look at the top group of clubs and you’ve got those just down in the last season or two from the Premier League, then others who are so-called bigger clubs who have spent fortunes to try and go up.
The Preston supporters will have their expectations but beyond that, all the focus from the media and pundits will be on the others and that can pile on the expectation.
What Alex Neil will be drumming into his players is that the Reading result was just a blip and that in the games ahead they don’t have anything to fear.
Runs have to come to an end some time and although it is always disappointing and frustrating when that happens, it’s part and parcel of football
The sign of a good team is to dust themselves down and go again, show that they can consistently string a good run together.
If North End can come out of these next three matches with a good return, it carries the season forward into the last four games.
Should that happen, then things really will get really exciting.
While we look at the batch of three games, for the squad it is a one-game-at-a-time job.
If they can get something from Sheffield United, it sets them up for Leeds and then, hopefully, West Bromwich.