Preston North End slipped to a rare away defeat on Saturday afternoon, losing 2-1 away at Rotherham United.
Alex Neil’s side had claimed 13 points from a possible 15 on the road, drawing at Norwich City before wins over Brentford, Queens Park Rangers, Huddersfield Town and Reading.
Fans were therefore hopeful of picking up another win at Rotherham, but Matt Crooks bagged a late winner for the hosts.
Ryan Ledson had cancelled out Richard Wood’s opener, but Preston were caught on the break trying to chase a winner, meaning they left South Yorkshire empty-handed.
It was a disappointing display from North End, which was summed up by terrible ball retention, as Preston’s midfield seemed too rushed, desperate to play balls over the top for an isolated Emil Riis.
Neil switched to a diamond midfielder at half time to try and wrestle some ascendancy in the middle of the park, but it just didn’t happen.
The number show this perfectly. WhoScored’s stats show that just three players managed a pass completion rate of more than 60%; Joe Rafferty at 65.9%, Ryan Ledson at 71.7% and Scott Sinclair at 81.3%.
Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Brad Potts were all in the 50’s, showing how Preston’s midfield struggled to keep hold of the ball for any extended period of time.
Conversely, the midweek win at Reading had 10 Preston players over 60% for pass accuracy, with Browne, Johnson and Potts all posting more than 70%.
That set the platform for Preston’s win, and whilst Rotherham deserve praise for putting North End’s midfield under pressure, we won’t win many games on the road with passing stats like these – and it needs to be improved moving forward.