"We can't be brilliant every single week," says boss Ryan Lowe, as Preston North End lose their unbeaten away run in the Championship
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The Lilywhites were condemned to their first league defeat on the road this season when Bristol City found a 90th minute winner at Ashton Gate.
The Merseysider described the performance on the South West Coast as "flat", and insinuated that it had been a game too many for his players.
North End have played four times in 11 days and 75% of that schedule has been away from Deepdale, including back-to-back trips to joint-league leaders Norwich City and the midweek test against the Robins.
"Some of the lads were out on their feet a little bit, but you can't make too many changes because they've been playing well," said the 44-year-old boss.
"There are loads of things that we didn't do as well as we would've normally done, whether it's a lack of energy, fatigue, the travel has been relentless, and they've got to go out and play 90 minutes. It's something we'll look at, we'll try to get them recovered and then go again."
There isn't, however, a cooling off period until the season breaks for the World Cup in Qatar next month, with PNE pencilled in to play another seven times before that point.
They're back at Deepdale tomorrow — as former boss Alex Neil makes his return with Stoke City — having posted a few encouraging results before their midweek setback.
After taking seven points from games against Sunderland, West Brom and Norwich, manager Lowe said: "It has been good. I said to the group that it is frustrating because we've got some good footballers and we didn't play as well as we would've liked, which is disappointing because the pitch is like a carpet and these stadiums are good places to come and play.
"I'd have been looking forward to getting back to Deepdale with a point rather than none, but it's football, the Championship is relentless."
He concluded: "We can't get too down with them; you have some good performances and some not so good performances. We can't be brilliant every single week, I know that, especially with the travel and the games coming up.
"We've got the squad, we can rotate and change, and bring a bit of freshness in, because we know that the lads can't keep going, we can't keep slaughtering them in getting them to do 90-plus minutes all the time. It's going to be hard for them."