Five things we learned from Preston North End's defeat to West Brom that kept them bottom of the Championship
Preston North End remained at the foot of the Championship table after a 3-2 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion.
The Lilywhites battled hard for long periods but again came out on the wrong side of a match where they should have had something to show for their efforts.
We take a look at the main talking points.
Ten games in PNE need something, from somewhere, and fast
As against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night there was some encouragement from this performance. But the cold, hard reality is that not only are North End bottom of the Championship but they are three points from safety in September. It’s all well and good talking about fine margins, close calls and decent displays but fans can only stomach that for so long. After games against Aston Villa on Tuesday night and Wigan next weekend a quarter of the season will have gone as the Lilywhites head into the next international break. A massive week lies ahead. Some positivity in the form of points is badly needed.
When your luck is out, your luck is out
There has been a lot wrong with Preston North End’s season so far - some of it of their own doing. But when you’re at the bottom of the Championship you need a bit of luck. That deserted the Lilywhites on Saturday. First their player of the season so far Callum Robinson was forced off with a knock early in the second half. Then West Brom’s decisive second goal had more than an element of luck about it. Craig Dawson’s cross hit the head of Ben Davies and looped beyond Chris Maxwell and in. On another day that sails over the bar, or into the hands of the ‘keeper but that is where North End are at the moment. They deserved a point but you don’t always get that in football, especially when you’re scrapping for form and points.
Midfield axis will be key to North End’s hopes this season
Against West Brom Alex Neil stuck with the midfield trio of Alan Browne, Ben Pearson and Ryan Ledson. It certainly looks like the way forward for North End in the middle of the park. With problems at the back they give PNE an added rigidity that has simply been lacking in the opening weeks of the campaign. That obviously isn’t the end of their talents. Pearson controls the game for North End while Browne’s energy as North End pressed West Brom was vital. Red card at Leeds aside, Ledson has also impressed since arriving at Deepdale and will only go from strength to strength. For a variety of reasons it has taken time for the trio to play together but it looks set to become a familiar sight for North End fans.
Storey ready for step up
Despite talking after the Middlesbrough game about taking care with Jordan Storey’s development, Neil took the decision to keep him in the side for the visit of the Championship’s top scorers. The youngster didn’t disappoint either and at just 21, the towering defender looks like a real talent. One early strong challenge signalled his intentions with a fine interception to cut out a Gareth Barry pass showing just how good his reading of the game is. In the second period he denied Dwight Gayle an almost certain goal that would have settled the game late on. After such limited experience in League Two, Storey was seen as a star of the future but his time might be now.
Maxwell going the right way about keeping the gloves
Chris Maxwell has got his chance between the sticks in recent games and is certainly taking it. Kyle Bartley’s header should have given West Brom an early lead but an outstretched hand from the Welshman helped the ball over the crossbar in what was an acrobatic stop. He then denied Harvey Barnes when through on goal as the visitors’ best two chances of the first half came and went. He could then do nothing about the goals in the second half and would be justified about asking questions of the men in front of him for the first, the second then a fluke and the third a fine strike. The goalkeeping situation has been the subject of plenty of debate but form like this from Maxwell will mean that ends quickly.