It was another bad night for Stoke City on Wednesday night, as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Preston North End at Deepdale, leaving Nathan Jones’ side bottom of the Championship standings after four games of the league season.
Goals from Daniel Johnson and Billy Bodin, both of which will have led to more than a bit of scrutiny on Stoke ‘keeper Jack Butland, gave Preston a 2-0 lead at half time, before Josh Harrop’s strike sealed the points for the hosts 20 minutes from time.
James McClean did hit a late consolation for the Potters, but with Stoke still some way off the pace at Deepdale, there will be plenty for Nathan Jones to think about ahead of the visit of league leaders Leeds United on Saturday afternoon.
Here, we look at three things we learnt about Stoke from that defeat at Deepdale.
Jack Butland could do with a break
When it comes to Stoke, it feels as though there is only really one place to start.
Having already come under scrutiny for some of his performances this season, Jack Butland did himself no favours in front of the Sky cameras on Wednesday night.
Having let two relative daisy cutters slip through his grasp to give Preston a comfortable half time lead, the England international’s body language noticeably dropped.
The goalkeeper looked far from comfortable, and you could almost argue that his lack of reaction to Harrop’s effort was just as telling about his mood right now.
Keeping Butland in the firing line when he is making errors like he is, means it feels as though it will be doing no one any favours right now, and in summer signing Adam Davies, they have a more than capable alternative who can step in between the posts while Butland gets his head around his situation away from the limelight.
The lack of killer instinct remains
Nathan Jones bemoaned his side’s failure to take chances after their 2-2 draw with Derby on Saturday, and it will have been a similar sensation for the Stoke boss again on Wednesday.
The Potters did put their hosts under plenty of pressure throughout the game, but they never really tested Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd, and when they did, it was usually something that he could comfortably deal with.
Many of the efforts produced from Stoke were either from distance or ended up going well wide, with the vast majority of the numerous crosses they put into the area well dealt with by the Preston defence.
While those in front of him could do nothing about Butland’s horror first half, if something like that is going to happen, you need the rest of your side to come up with something to get you out of such a difficult situation, and the Potters’ attack just couldn’t do that at Deepdale.
The pressure continues to build on Nathan Jones
Like the rest of his side, there was little Nathan Jones could do about Butland’s nightmare at Deepdale, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the focus of his supporters’ frustrations on Wednesday night.
There were audible boos from the away end as the referee blew his whistle for half time, while Jones’ substitutions at 2-0 down, bringing on defender Nathan Collins for midfielder Ryan Woods and withdrawing striker Scott Hogan to be replaced by another midfielder in Peter Etebo, appeared to draw similar ire from the away end, and he was also serenaded with renditions of ‘sacked in the morning’ from the Preston fans.
Having now taken just three wins in 24 league wins as Potters boss – which compares with eight in 26 for his predecessor Gary Rowett – and the Stoke crowd making their feelings known, those Deepdale regulars may not too be far off with that prediction is something doesn’t change soon.