A marvellous following of 2,435 inside Pride Park saw North End produce one of their occasional “shockers” when going down 1-0 to Derby County.
I would guess that the majority of PNE fans inside the ground were not so much disappointed by the result but the manner in which Preston succumbed to a Derby side which wasn’t one of the best we have seen over the last 20 years.
Poor in the first half particularly in the middle of the park and lucky, really, to only be a goal down at the interval thanks to two excellent saves from Declan Rudd.
After the break, and co-inciding with the introduction of Gally and Billy Bodin, North End were better and shaded that second half, although the Rams did look dangerous on the counter-attack.
I have to disagree with the manager, though, when he said it was a game of two halves because we did not dominate in the second period like Derby did in the first and looking at the game over the 90 minutes we didn’t really deserve anything from it.
The manager made two changes from the side that started against Huddersfield at Deepdale a fortnight ago with Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson coming in for Ryan Ledson and Paul Gallagher, both of whom dropped to the bench.
North End were very slow off the mark and Lawrence had a shot early as North End seemed to struggle to find their shape. Derby hit the crossbar and Rudd twice saved well as we continued to struggle.
When the goal came it was no surprise as substitute Waghorn fired home from close range as North End failed to clear a corner from the left. In fact we did look shaky at defending corners in this particular game although Derby were not particularly a big side or a very physical side for that matter.
Alex Neil clearly thought he had seen enough in the first half and with Darnell Fisher booked and Jayden Stockley having little impact in the first period, they were replaced with Bodin who played on the right and Gally who played in his favourite role just in front of the centre backs.
We kept better possession after the break but our general build up play was slow and allowed Derby to keep their shape reasonably well.
I must admit to not buying to the theory that North End always play badly after aninternational break but I think we have now only won twice in all the time Alex Neil has been here after the some players come back from international duty.
Johnson looked off the pace at Derby and to be honest Browne looked better at right-back than he did in midfield in the first half.
Even Pearson was not quite at it before the break as Derby smothered us in the centre of the park and broke quickly with their wide men which resulted in both full backs receiving cautions before the interval.
We live to fight another day at the KCOM Stadium on Wednesday evening. I expect the manager to make two or possibly three changes to freshen up the side.