The 4-2 defeat to Millwall on Saturday was a tough one to take as we had all the momentum at 2-2. Once The Lions got the crucial fifth goal, the heads dropped in the Preston team, and the substitutions couldn’t help at all.

This season Championship clubs are able to bring on five players from the seven named substitutes. Sometimes it can hinder a side but it can give you plenty of options. Making five changes can disrupt the team, and it often feels like when Preston are losing Lowe will make the subs just for the sake of it.

It can be argued our changes always come too late in the game. We make them reactively rather than proactively. Lowe will usually make his first change just after we concede midway through the second half for example. We were on top between the 45-60th minutes, and for me Ali McCann was having a poor game. One change there might have worked.

Preston North End v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Rich Linley – CameraSport via Getty Images


Instead Zian Flemming sealed his hat-trick to give Gary Rowett’s side the lead once again, and three minutes later Ryan Lowe decided to make two changes. He brought on Alvaro Fernandez and Ben Woodburn, but it was a surprise to see Robbie Brady and Alan Browne make way. They were having solid games, but having said that both were at fault for the aforementioned third Millwall goal.

Manchester United loanee Fernandez was keen and eager as ever to get forward, but there wasn’t enough energy in the team to help him. Preston were very lethargic for the remainder of the game. After Richard Cresswell’s son Charlie, scored a fourth for Millwall, Lowe then turned to Sean Maguire and Daniel Johnson.

Ched Evans made way for Maguire, and even though the Welshman has started the last three games and does tend to tire, he was looking good and still had more to give. Another Welshman in Andrew Hughes came off for DJ leaving us with four at the back and then four central midfielders in the middle.

It didn’t pay off, and we struggled to create anything in the last third of the game. In truth and to be fair to Lowe he doesn’t have the best of options from the bench. The squad lacks quality in depth, especially in attacking areas. Johnson has been way off it this season, but hasn’t had a decent run of games to get into his flow.

On top of that, Maguire has gone a year without a goal. He hasn’t scored since Lowe has been manager, so Ryan knows he has to hope for a miracle when he brings him on. Very rarely have our substitutions really changed the course of the game. Woodburn has had his moments, and Fernandez too, but overall it hasn’t been anything to shout about.

It’s clear we need reinforcements in January, but whether the budget is there for anything, who knows? To be level with 6th place at this stage of the season is incredible, because you wouldn’t even need two hands to count the number of really impressive Preston performances so far this season.

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Josh McLoughlin
Josh McLoughlin

Combining my two passions of North End and writing. First game - 0-0 v Bristol Rovers 1996 Favourite player - Mark Rankine Favourite goal - Scott Laird v Manchester United

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