Sean Gregan’s exclusive column: Blues loss for Preston must be put into context

Preston North End's Graham Burke gets a shot on goal
Preston North End's Graham Burke gets a shot on goal

Defeat is always difficult to come to terms with but I think Preston losing to Birmingham City has to be put in context.

It is one defeat in 10 games against a team who haven’t been beaten at home this season.

During the nine-match unbeaten run which North End put together, they won a derby game, got their first away victory and at times played Middlesbrough off the park.

You don’t go nine games unbeaten by accident and the hard work which went into it cannot be forgotten.

So to go in too hard on them after Saturday’s defeat would be harsh and I’m sure the message all week at the training ground will focus on it being only one defeat since the end of September.

The spotlight has fallen on goalkeeper Declan Rudd for his mistake for the first goal, allowing a harmless shot to go through his legs.

That is the life of a keeper isn’t it?

A striker can miss five good chances in a game and not much gets said.

But if the keeper drops a clanger, it very often leads to a goal and is magnified.

There’s not a lot you can say to a team-mate who has just made an error like that.

You give them a pat on the shoulder and let them get on with it.

Very often they will bounce back by making a save or showing some good form in the next few games.

I remember playing for Preston against Brentford down at Griffin Park in 1999 I think it was.

We had just scored and from the re-start, one of their lads lobbed Tepi Moilanen from the centre-circle.

Tepi was off his line and couldn’t back-pedal quickly enough to claw it away.

As a player you think about all the hard work that has gone into scoring a goal and then all that is wiped out in an instant

There was another one with Tepi at Norwich when he allowed a back pass to run under his foot and into the net it went.

We can remember errors like that all these years later but we won’t remember a striker missing a sitter.

Goalkeepers are all a bit crazy and tend to learn how to deal with mistakes.

Injuries have hit Preston hard of late, it’s not an excuse but the facts at there.

While they are bringing young lads into the team to cover those who are missing, there are some clubs in the Championship who can draft in a £20m player,

Having a clear midweek is probably a blessing for North End, in that they can maybe get a couple of the injured players back fit.

Sometimes after a defeat you want to get straight back out there but in this case, that would be the last thing they need.

It is Nottingham Forest next at the City Ground, a team who are going well.

My memory of the City Ground is David Moyes climbing Pat Cash-style into the stand to get to see the referee’s assessor after PNE’s game there in 2000.

Moyesy would pick his battles carefully, I doubt he would have done that had we been playing at Millwall!