Preston fan John Roper felt North End looked mentally tired during their defeat to Sheffield United

Sheffield United's Dean Henderson saves at the feet of Preston North End's Sean Maguire
Sheffield United's Dean Henderson saves at the feet of Preston North End's Sean Maguire

A disappointing home defeat that leaves North End clinging on to the coat tails of the play off chasing pack with just six games to play.

I thought we looked mentally tired for a large part of the game with some poor decision making and too often a concession of the ball in the centre of the park.

Having said that, North End had their chances in this game but failed to put them away against a highly organised Sheffield United side who few could argue that they did not deserve the points.

The manager shuffled the pack a few times in the second half but North End looked to be running low on fuel just at the wrong time of the season and I thought we spent far too long moving the ball around in midfield when perhaps a more direct route might have brought us some better dividends.

North End made two changes from the side that started at Reading last week with Alan Browne coming back into the side along with Ryan Ledson in place of Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson.

We had the better of it early on with a couple of half chances and looking like we could get down the side of the Blades back three. Robinson had the best chance when clean through but his shot was well saved by Henderson in the visitors’ goal as North End looked to strike first.

I thought we were growing into the game when we conceded what turned out to be the winning goal when a corner was tipped onto the bar by Rudd only for the impressive McGlodrick to follow up and score.

Ben Pearson spoiled a decent first half display by getting one of the most stupid cautions I think I have ever seen after continually moving the ball forward at a free kick after being told by the referee where to place the ball.

No changes immediately after half-time for North End but we did show a bit more urgency after the break as we looked for the equaliser and when Moult came on for Robinson I thought we looked in better shape.

We just could not break down a stubborn and well organised Sheffield United defence and the Blades were clearly very adept at executing the plan which has taken them to second in the Championship table.

The introduction of Gallagher brought cheers from the home crowd in an attendance of 18,339 but Gally couldn’t quite do it for us on the day and even he missed a very good chance putting the ball just over the bar from the inside left position.

Much as we tried we never really looked like breaking through and I think the home crowd disappointment was more about the display than the result.The gap is now five points to the play-offs and with just six games to play it is looking increasingly difficult for us to break into the top six even though some results went for us in the other games played.

No one can knock what North End have done since the defeat at Rotherham and we have still taken 28 points from the last 14 games which is an average of two points a game.

Alex Neil has a big job on his hands to get the boys up for a massive game against Leeds on Tuesday evening after these two league defeats.

No doubt the boys will be ready and inspite of these two big setbacks in the last two games we must go again with the confidence and the fighting spirit that we showed in the previous 12. Its not over yet but we need a result on Tuesday to get us back on track ahead of Gentry Day.