Simon Grayson insists that Preston are ‘not a million miles away’ from turning around their poor early-season form.
The 2-1 defeat to Barnsley was their fifth league reverse in six matches, a result which left them second bottom of the Championship table.
It was a ninth league game at Deepdale without a win, a run which the Lilywhites will hope to end against Cardiff City tomorrow night.
North End boss Grayson said: “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we have to be ready to go again.
“Whoever saw the second-half performance on Saturday would have realised we weren’t the team which should have lost the game.
“But for the odd mistake and not being ruthless enough in taking our chances, we would have won.
“The players are hurting because they want to get the right results.
“We are not a million miles away, so it is difficult to take for everyone.
“I feel sorry for the supporters, no one wants to lose five of the first six games.
“How do you think the other teams down there – Blackburn and Leeds – feel?
“They are finding it difficult, just like we are.
“This is a tough division and you have to have a sense of reality about what is achievable and what isn’t.”
Aiden McGeady struck on his North End debut with a shot from outside the box, the goal bringing them level in the 64th minute after Sam Winnall had given Barnsley the lead in the first half.
McGeady’s goal was the start of North End’s best spell of the game and they had the chances to go in front.
But 10 minutes from time, Tykes sub Adam Armstrong hit a fine winner – producing what Grayson described as a ‘bit of magic’ in back-heeling the ball inside Alex Baptiste and curling a shot home.
McGeady was used in a role behind the striker to start with, then switched to the right wing when PNE changed systems in the second half.
Said Grayson: “We played a 3-4-2-1, a 3-4-3 as such.
“Sometimes when we play 4-4-2 against an opposition like Barnsley, you can end up with McGeady and Callum Robinson back in their own half with the Barnsley full-backs and not being effective.
“We wanted the three up front to play high up the pitch, ask questions of the defence.
“Having three at the back allowed us to deal with their front two, and our wing-backs gave us the width.
“We worked all last week on it, we did double sessions to make sure everyone knew the job they were doing.
“As the game flowed, it became right to switch to the 4-4-2 because we were on the front foot and asking questions of Barnsley.
“I thought McGeady did well on his debut – he has got that trickery in his game and is versatile.
“It was a great finish for the goal and he probably thought he could have done better with a second opportunity which was a bit easier.”