Five things we learned from Preston North End's 3-2 defeat at Sheffield United
Preston North End were left crestfallen after going down 3-2 at Sheffield United on Saturday.
WATCH: Dave Seddon's verdict on Preston North End's defeat at Sheffield UnitedThe hosts were in command at 2-0 with 10 minutes to play only for goals from Callum Robinson and Daniel Johnson to level things up.
A dramatic finale had another twist though with David McGoldrick scoring an 87th-minute winner which sent PNE bottom of the Championship.
Below are the main talking points.
The table doesn’t lie
It’s early days, yes. There’s a long way to go in the campaign, sure. But the Championship table does not lie after nine games with the Lilywhites propping up the rest after Ipswich picked up a point against Bolton. Losing becomes a habit and North End need to find something from somewhere and fast to drag themselves out of the increasingly perilous situation they find themselves in. There are positives here, they have a first goal away from home in the Championship this season and PNE refused to lie down. But how will a side so low on confidence react? This was a sickening defeat after hauling themselves towards a much-needed point but hopefully the Lilywhites will able to take something from it.
Rot won’t stop unless defence is sorted out
While goals have been in short supply, three conceded in each of the last three games tells its own story. North End simply can’t stop conceding goals and poor ones at that. The first and third at Bramall Lane saw PNE exploited down the sides of their back three while the second came from a free-kick, admittedly very well delivered by Oliver Norwood and flicked home by Chris Basham. No matter how Neil tries to line up, this side showed five changes from the defeat at Leeds and a 3-4-1-2 system, PNE can’t keep the back door shut. The Lilywhites boss admitted post match that the aim was to keep a clean sheet, Neil happy for his side to contain the Blades in the early stages. But that is a big ask when North End’s form is as it is. Back to the drawing board he goes.
Maxwell deserves his chance and should now get a run
After plenty of debate Chris Maxwell replaced Declan Rudd for PNE’s trip to Bramall Lane. It was the right call, Rudd short of form and confidence for several weeks now. The pair are completely different when it comes to style and it will now be up to Maxwell to take his chance, the Welshman hopefully afforded the same run of games than his fellow shot-stopper was. There was again no clean sheet but Maxwell can’t be blamed for the opening goal. PNE were cut open far too easily down their left with the ‘keeper getting a hand to David McGoldrick’s cross that set up Billy Sharp who had an alarming amount of room to score. The main issues are in front of him.
Ledson’s return a welcome one
Ryan Ledson was straight back in the starting line-up after his three-match ban as PNE’s midfield problems begin to ease. He was deployed as one of two deeper midfielders alongside Paul Gallagher as Neil reverted to three at the back. His qualities are obvious. There is plenty of industry and the former Everton youngster is more than just neat and tidy. Hopefully his red card for a wild lunge against Leeds will also be one he learns from as the 21-year-old also isn’t shy in the tackle either. Like so many he will only get better but this young squad need to learn fast given PNE’s predicament. Which is getting more and more concerning by the day.
Football matches shouldn’t be held on university moving in days
What a nightmare it was getting to Bramall Lane. While the media made it in time, some only just, a large part of North End’s travelling support missed a significant part of Saturday’s game. With Sheffield Hallam University welcoming its new students the roads around the ground where chaos, traffic issues backing up to the ring road around the city. When the teams were confirmed at 2pm, referee Scott Duncan hadn’t arrived, but still the game went ahead as planned at 3pm. That doesn’t seem right when the away end was pretty much empty as the game kicked off. These fans have been through enough lately as well...