Stoke City failed to back up their excellent win against Leeds United with a meaningful result at home to Preston this weekend as they went down 2-0.
Alan Browne and new signing Brad Potts bagged for the visitors as they moved to within two points of the Potters in the Championship table.
It’s a result that leaves Nathan Jones’ side eight points adrift of the play-off race with a mountain to climb if they’re going to put in a late bid for a top six finish.
Stoke were second best for much of the game and if last weekend gave the manager hope of improving their fortunes, this match ensured he was brought back down to earth with a bump.
Every fixture will be a learning curve for Jones, fresh out of League One and in his biggest role as yet, so if he’s to move forward he has to analyse the games and see what he can take from them.
We’ve identified three things he should have certainly picked up from this dismal defeat.
Woods was missing this weekend, with Jones playing 3-5-2 and a midfield featuring Joe Allen, Peter Etebo and Sam Clucas.
That trio did not affect the game enough and were overrun by Browne, Pearson and Gallagher on the opposite side.
Woods is key to moving Stoke forward, that is for sure.
Both Shawcross and Ashley Williams are not getting any younger and the ease with which Sean Maguire found Brad Potts for the second has to be addressed.
Jones has identified a defender as a requirement, but if he needed a reminder why this defeat will serve as one.
Keeping the ball
Stoke weren’t woeful, but in possession they lacked a certain cutting edge. Their energy levels dropped off and when they had the ball they often gave it away cheaply.
With a strong three-man midfield and a two man forward line to hold the ball up, they should have kept possession much better. It’s got to improve if they’re going to push on for a top half finish.