Derby County 1-0 Preston North End: 5 Talking Points

Preston North End were left licking their wounds after taking a stern beating from Phillip Cocu’s resolute Rams.

The Lilywhites slipped down to third, while West Brom extended their lead at the summit, moving five points ahead of PNE.

Derby, who have endured a testing season so far, looked classy in possession and will be hoping that they can begin moving towards the Play-Off places.

Here are our 5 Talking Points:

Preston and international breaks…

They really don’t get along.

After beating Barnsley 5-1 back at the beginning of October, Preston entered the international break brimming with confidence.

Yet, they were soundly beaten away at Reading two weeks later, the hosts winning 1-0.

In fact, in Preston’s last 11 games after the international break, they have won just two of them.

Will we ever win at Pride Park?

The last time Preston won a league game away at Derby County was on September 21, 2002.

If history is to be acknowledged, yesterday’s result isn’t much of a surprise.

In the 21st century, PNE have won just 7 out of 29 games played against Derby; a torrid record.

Embed from Getty Images

Bodged backline

Once again, the makeshift backline was put to the test.

For half of the game, Alan Browne featured at right back – a position he is becoming surprisingly comfortable with.

Browne certainly didn’t lack tenacity, but his judgement was amiss on a couple of occasions.

On the opposite side, Joe Rafferty continues to provide able cover at left back, although he had his work cut out yesterday against Derby’s dangerous attacking midfielders and full-throttle full backs.

In the heart of defence, Ben Davies was unable to continue due to an ankle injury, meaning Jordan Storey returned to the side for the first time since August.

The young centre half looked at ease during his 18 minutes, although the momentum of the game ensured his defensive duties were reduced.

Faulty Fisher

Arguably, Darnell Fisher has been a key part of Preston North End’s recent success, but against Derby, the right-back looked vulnerable.

He might have been “dynamite”, but for all the wrong reasons.

Like an explosive made in a garden shed, Fisher looked unpredictable and volatile.

Derby also had a reasonable case for Fisher to be dismissed, when the right back hauled Mason Bennett to the ground, after the attacker had broken through on goal.

Fisher was spared a sending off, but would find himself hooked at half-time in favour of Paul Gallagher. Alan Browne slotted in at right back, while Gallagher was brought on to steady the game.

Fisher is now just one yellow card away from a two match ban.

We didn’t score?

For only the third time this season, Preston failed to notch a goal.

The Lilywhites still sit joint top in terms of goals scored, but lacked firepower in the East Midlands.

PNE couldn’t find their rhythm going forward – Stockley wasn’t his usual troublesome self and Preston often lacked width.

The disallowed goal was as close as we would come, as the Rams stifled every single PNE attack.

Quite simply, we were outclassed by a manager who had done his homework on Alex Neil’s team.