Preston North End's form needs a 'clean-up' says defender Andrew Hughes

Andrew Hughes says it is time Preston North End ‘cleaned up’ their form both home and away in a bid to get moving in the right direction in the Championship.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 12:30 pm

The spotlight will be shone on Deepdale on Wednesday night (7.45pm) when PNE host in-form Queens Park Rangers in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

They’ve yet to win on home turf in 2021, with six of the seven points taken this calendar year done so on their travels.

Wins at Blackburn and Birmingham were the high points but it’s not been all plain-sailing on the road either, North End smarting from a 4-0 defeat to Cardiff City at the weekend.

Preston North End left-back Andrew Hughes

So while the immediate focus is on being better at Deepdale – they are also at home on Saturday against Huddersfield – consistency is needed away too.

Not since December have the Lilywhites recorded a victory at Deepdale, with them having won three on the bounce either side of Christmas.

Hughes, who has operated both at left-back and as a centre-back of late, said: “I wouldn’t say the home form plays on the mind.

“I think we need to clean up our form generally, look at the bigger picture home and away.

Andrew Hughes in action for PNE at Cardiff

“We have to cut out the mistakes and hopefully doing that will pay-off and we can get some more points on the board.

“You look at what we’ve done recently, we got a great result at Blackburn and I felt we were unlucky here against Watford last week.

“But then we went and had that bizarre game at Cardiff which really was one to forget.”

The Cardiff City Stadium encounter was a return to his home city which Hughes would rather forget.

North End conceded in the opening minute of both halves, saw two penalties saved and made mistakes for the third and fourth goals.

Conceding a penalty so early set the tone, Liam Lindsay penalised for catching Cardiff skipper Sean Morrison.

Hughes said: “I couldn’t really see why the penalty was given, I had a few bodies between myself and the incident.

“Whether it was the right decision or wrong one, we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position in the first place so early in the game.

“As the gaffer mentioned to us, when things like that happen the game plan goes out of the window and it is hard to recover.

“What was just as disappointing was the way we conceded the second goal just after half-time.

“It’s almost like we didn’t learn our lesson from the first goal.

“When you talk about game management, that has to apply at all stages of the game, not just towards the end if you have the lead.

“We don’t want to be making cheap mistakes, we gave Cardiff four goals which was so disappointing.”

Preston and QPR are at opposite ends of the form guide going into their Deepdale meeting, although are level on points.

The West London side have won six of their last seven matches, a run which had shot them into mid table after being close to the bottom three in December.

North End beat them 2-0 in the reverse fixture in the capital in October, Daniel Johnson and Scott Sinclair both scoring penalties.

Hughes played that game at left-back but has found himself getting a central role when Alex Neil has opted to play a 3-4-1-2 formation in a few of the recent games.

The 28-year-old said: “I play where I’m asked and I’ll always try to do my best.

“At Blackburn and Cardiff I was in a three and that is a position I’m happy to play.

“The gaffer has always looked to give us the best chance of winning a game by picking a shape to suit us.

“If that means a bit of a change from one game to a next, I’m happy to do that.

“Hopefully we can get back to winning ways and get ourselves on a good run.”

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