Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

I have got to say that I didn't see Preston's defeat against Sheffield Wednesday coming '“ then again there were some strange results in the Championship on Good Friday.

Sunday, 1st April 2018, 7:00 pm
Alex Neil delivers some instructions to Callum Robinson during Preston's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Good Friday

The 4-1 scoreline looked a bit of a hammering but that wasn’t the case, with North End caught cold by two goals at the start of the second half and two at the end.

When PNE got it back to 2-1, it was the type of game which could have finished 2-2 or even 3-2 to them with the momentum they had.

As it was, they got stung twice in stoppage time.

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Sheffield Wednesday had been struggling of late but they’d won at Leeds in their last game.

They have reached the play-offs for the last couple of years, so this wasn’t an easy game by any stretch,

Being Easter it means that North End have another game quickly to focus on.

After losing 4-1, the last thing you want as a squad is to be mulling over a defeat in training all week.

Alex Neil will have had the players in on Saturday for a warm-down and to start the preparations to face Derby County.

On Friday, Derby lost by the same 4-1 scoreline to Sunderland, which was a big shock. Did anyone really expect Sunderland to go to Pride Park and score four?

Derby have had a real slip in form recently and that is something which they’ve done before.

It has happened under different coaches so you’ve got to look at the group of players there.

Hopefully North End can extend Derby’s bad run in the lunchtime game at Deepdale and get themselves back on a winning trail.

After the Easter Monday clash it is down to the last six games of the season.

Put together a good run and they have every chance of making the top six.

In the Championship, it looks like the current top two Wolves and Cardiff will get automatic promotion, then Fulham and Aston Villa for two of the play-off slots.

But fifth and sixth places are up for grabs.

Whoever goes up, they will certainly be replacing one of my former clubs West Bromwich who are doomed.

Then for me, it is two 
from Southampton, Stoke and Huddersfield.

Southampton are on a poor run and don’t seem to have got the bounce from Mark Hughes going there.

Huddersfield struggle for goals and Stoke have never got going this season.

Crystal Palace are down there too but I think they might be all right with some of the players they have.

It is a shame to see West Bromwich struggle but did they bring it on themselves a bit with sacking Tony Pulis?

Albion weren’t the best team to watch under Pulis but he had them organised and solid.

I think they were a point above the relegation zone when he left, now they are cast adrift at the bottom.

I’m not sure why Alan Pardew was seen as a better bet than Pulis.

It would be ironic if the club Pulis is managing now, Middlesbrough, got one of the play-off places and ended up being promoted – going in the other direction to Albion.