Talking points from Preston North End's defeat to Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium
After two wins in four days against Wigan and Bradford, it was back down to earth for Preston North End against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
Plenty happened in South Wales on Saturday, with five goals – three of them packed into a six-minute spell – and a serious injury sustained by the unfortunate Louis Moult.
Here are some of the talking points from the Liberty Stadium clash.
1. Preston had kept two clean sheets in the past week but shipped three here.
Defending is a team effort and all three Swansea goals began further back in the North End half.
Once they had dealt with a second minute free-kick, PNE held the home side at bay until stoppage-time – with some ease too.
But they then undid that good work by allowing the ball to be worked by Swansea through midfield and out to the right where a low cross was scuffed home by Borja Baston.
Goals two and three saw them exploited down the other side of the pitch, both seeing Bersant Celina pull the ball back.
Work to be done there then on having a harder core to their defending.
2. The sight of striker Louis Moult being put on a stretcher in the 25th minute was heart-wrenching.
This was his second start in the Championship on the bounce and Moult’s tail was up after last week’s goal against Wigan.
As is often the case, the serious injuries occur in the most innocuous of ways.
In this case Moult stretched to try and get on the end of a through ball into the box and his knee gave way from under him.
It looked a bad one and with David Nugent out with a calf strain for a few weeks, that is two strikers.
Jayden Stockley and Sean Maguire are the two strikers left, backed-up by wingers Tom Barkhuizen and Andre Green who can play up front.
It was an area which looked light, especially given Nugent has been recovering from a summer operation on his knee. With four games gone, Alex Neil’s options are restricted.
The choice of Green was Moult's replacement, with Stockley staying on the bench all afternoon, was something of a surprise.
Green, on loan from Aston Villa, was signed as a winger but was pressed into service down the middle.
Alex Neil did say he was looking to Green to try and get in behind the Swansea defence and perhaps thought Stockley wouldn't be as effective doing that aspect of the job.
For now though, thoughts are with Moult for as speedy recovery as possible in the circumstances.
3. The attention was on Joe Rafferty as he stepped into the side as Andrew Hughes’ stand-in.
He didn’t fair too badly at left-back at all, opening the scoring in the 11th minute with his first PNE goal.
He tended to move on to his right foot at times, that to be expected for a player who is right-footed by trade. In fact, he scored in such a manner after intercepting a clearance and shifting the ball into a shooting position.
Rafferty can plug the gap for now but Hughes’ return from a hamstring injury will be welcome to give more balance.
4. The Lilywhites have two very good penalty-takers in Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher.
The last three penalties have all come against the same goalkeeper – Freddie Woodman.
He is on loan at Swansea from Newcastle and Gallagher put two spot-kicks past him last month.
On Saturday Johnson was on penalty duty even though Gallagher was on the pitch, with him doing the business for PNE’s second goal.
Unfortunately, it restored parity for less than two minutes.