Seven talking points from Preston North End's 1-0 defeat to Reading - yet another setback at the Madejski Stadium
Preston North End were undone by a late sucker punch at Reading and saw their eight-game unbeaten league run come to an end.
They were nowhere near their best at the Madejski Stadium but must have thought a point was in the bag as the clock moved into the seventh minute of time added on.
Agonisingly, North End conceded the contest’s only goal and they suffered their first Championship defeat for two months.
So where did it go wrong for PNE? Here are some of the key points from the 1-0 reverse.
1. North End’s passing was off kilter to say the least and their attacking play suffered as a result.
Their good results this season have been built on good retention of the ball and some good use of it.
It was hard to remember too many passages of play when PNE moved the ball well in this game.
Two which stood out was a first-half move which saw David Nugent play in Tom Barkhuizen, then a chance in the second half when Nugent met a Darnell Fisher cross but put his header too close to the keeper.
Other than that, they lost the ball too often and their passing was sloppy.
2. This wasn’t a game when David Nugent fired on all cylinders up front.
Nugent deservedly got the nod up front after starting in the 5-1 win over Barnsley.
But with the way the game panned out, it needed the type of striker to take the ball in and build from there.
There was little service for Nugent, save the Fisher cross for his header.
3. North End got limited joy down the sides which was disappointing.
Reading’s 3-5-2 system left space but the visitors couldn’t exploit it.
A few times in the first half in particular, Fisher found himself in lots of space pushing up from right-back.
But his play was rather hesitant in that final third when more aggressive was needed.
Barkhuizen and Sean Maguire didn’t fire as they have done recently.
4. Will Declan Rudd have been disappointed with the manner in which Reading’s winner beat him?
He pulled off some decent saves during the afternoon and parried the shot from Jordan Obita immediately before the goal.
Matt Miazga got plenty of power behind the rebound, Rudd getting his gloves to it but was unable to stop the shot going in.
5. It was a big call from Neil to bring Andrew Hughes back into the side, more so his decision to leave out Joe Rafferty to accommodate.
Hughes was one of PNE’s better performers, with Neil wanting his strength to cope with Yakou Meite.
Buy you had to have some sympathy for Rafferty who has performed admirably in the left-back role.
A round peg in a round hole is how to look at it in the cold light of day but Rafferty hadn’t done much wrong.
6. Yellow warning in place for Ben Pearson.
The midfielder will have to watch his step against Leeds on Tuesday if he wants to face Blackburn and do battle with Bradley Dack next Saturday.
Pearson picked up his fourth yellow card of the season for a foul on John Swift in the second half. Another caution and he gets a one-match ban.
His booking on this occasion had some justification in that he fouled Swift to prevent him breaking on the counter-attack. Taking one for the team as they say.
7. What is it about the Madejski Stadium?
Fifteen visits since 1999 to the Madejski had yielded just two wins for North End, one in the league and the other in the FA Cup.
What is it about the out-of-town bowl that various PNE sides down the years haven't liked?
This was the fourth defeat on the bounce at Reading's home ground and a poor performance to boot.