Alex Neil thought experience and age made a difference in Preston’s defeat to Sheffield United at Deepdale.
The PNE manager felt the Blades had that extra bit of know-how in closing the game down in the second half as his side chased an equaliser.
David McGoldrick’s goal from close range in the first half won it for the visitors, North End having earlier missed some good chances.
Neil said: “When you look at the Sheffield United team, they are full of guys who have been in the Championship.
“They know what it is about, McGoldrick and Billy Sharp have scored all those goals.
“Our back line had a young kid at left-back, a young lad at right-side centre-back and a young lad at left centre-back.
“Darnell Fisher who is 25 was at right-back.
“We had Ryan Ledson in the middle of the park, Lukas Nmecha wide right.
“I think Sheffield United’s one young player was Kieran Dowell who is on loan.
“We have loads of scope for our young players to get better but we all want them to get better right this second which is difficult.
“Look at how Ben Davies performed, I thought he was absolutely sensational and the best player on the pitch.
“That is how good the young boys can become if you give them a bit of time.
“We need to give them time but not too long because we want success and we want it relatively quickly.”
Neil admitted his side had struggled to creat chances later in the game, that being as the Blades tightened their grip on the contest.
“They took Dowell off and went with three big defenders and a left-back,” said Neil.
“Chris Basham went into midfield so basically they had six defensive players.
“We put the two big lads (Moult and Stockley) on to try and keep the ball up there as it was difficult to get behind them at that point.
“I thought that as the game went on, we created less and less.
“At the start of the game we created a lot more and at the start of the second half we had some good chances.”
North End are five points shy of the play-offs with six games to play.
Leeds United come to Deepdale tomorrow night in what could be regarded as a must-win game by both sides.
Neil said: “Leeds are going to be a different proposition than Sheffield United were due to the way they play.
“I’d say that Leeds have been the most impressive team over the course of the season even though they are sitting in third.
“I like the way they play, they are aggressive and have got aggressive runners.
“I think they have been good to watch this season.”