Preston have hit a sticky patch of form again, and it’s come at the worst possible time with the final playoff spot up for grabs.
North End had lost three in four before last weekend’s clash with Queens Park Rangers, falling to defeats against Millwall, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, making the QPR game huge.
It turned out to be a disaster though, as Preston squandered a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 at home against a 10-man QPR side. It’s now three defeats in a row, and four in the last five as North End’s playoff push has taken a hit.
Still, Preston sit sixth in the Championship table, somehow still occupying that last playoff spot. The form of other clubs around Preston has been a godsend here, as they’ve left it all still in North End’s hands.
Since the turn of the year, Preston’s only wins have come against Charlton Athletic (22nd), Barnsley (24th), Wigan Athletic (20th), Stoke City (17th) and Hull City (21st); form that doesn’t exactly smack of a playoff side.
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Now, pundit Andy Hinchcliffe has offered his view, admitting that Preston’s defeat to QPR was ‘really strange’ as he thought North End had learned lessons from poor home form in the past, and noted that he didn’t expect such a capitulation from Alex Neil’s side.
Hinchcliffe, speaking on Sky Sports’ Football League podcast, suggested that he had picked out Preston as the team that would take sixth spot, but he’s now having to think again, believing that the pressure may be getting to North End.
“It’s really strange as well, because Preston had been so strong at home and they clearly learned from what happened last season and I felt that they were the team that were guaranteed to finish in sixth place. They might still do that, but these games against the likes of QPR really, really surprised me; a home game when they’re leading, the opposition are down to 10 men and they get beaten, that’s not what I expect from Preston.”
“So is it the pressure? The pressure of getting towards the end of the season and desperately trying to finish in that sixth spot, because that looks like the only play-off position that’s available now. Is it Bristol City, is it Millwall? We could be dropping halfway down the league but Preston were my team. I thought they were going to definitely make it but results like the one they picked up against QPR make you think again,” he added.