Preston North End made it six games without a win on Saturday afternoon, as they played out a 1-1 draw with local rivals Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
It was Tony Mowbray’s side who took an early lead through Adam Armstrong after less than three minutes of the match, before Preston drew level little more than ten minutes later, as Josh Harrop fired in a thumping volley from the edge of the area.
That was enough to secure a point for Preston, leaving them tenth in the Championship table, two points off the play-off places, meaning they are still well in contention for a top-six spot come the end of the season.
Here, we take a look at three things we learned about Preston from that Ewood Park stalemate.
Right-back is still a position up for grabs
On Saturday, Preston manager Alex Neil elected to bring captain Tom Clarke into the side at right-back, in place of the more regular starter in that position this season, Darnell Fisher.
Neil explained after the match it was a decision that was taken due to the added height Clarke brings to his backline, although it may have been a call he regretted just moments into the game, when Clarke gifted the ball to Stewart Downing, who was then able to play Armstrong in for Blackburn’s opener.
Clarke did however redeem himself late on in the game, producing a brilliant defensive header to deny Danny Graham what would have almost certainly been a winner for Rovers, taking a knock off the post for his troubles in the process.
Given he made a distinctly mixed contribution on Saturday, it is hard to know whether Neil will be willing to keep faith with Clarke for the visit of Charlton next weekend, and that selection could be telling as to just who is in pole position for that spot going forward long term.
They have to keep hold of Declan Rudd
In a game of few chances, it was Preston ‘keeper Declan Rudd who certainly seemed to be the busier of the two number ones.
The North End stopper produced an impressive diving save to deny Lewis Holtby’s effort from nestling in the top corner in the first half, and prevented Tosin Adarabioyo from netting a late winner for Rovers with another acrobatic save.
It was also reported over the weekend that Rudd – who is entering the final six months of his contract at Deepdale – has emerged as a potential alternative target to Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph for Premier League side West Ham.
Performances like this are unlikely to ease that interest from elsewhere, and given the defeat they may have suffered without him, also highlight the need for Preston to secure his services beyond the end of this window, and indeed this season.
Scott Sinclair will take time to bed in
For all the excitement around the signing of Scott Sinclair from Celtic earlier this week, it is hard to escape the fact that this was something of an underwhelming debut for Preston’s newest recruit.
Introduced from the bench with just ten minutes of normal time remaining, Sinclair struggled to really make an impact for his new side, failing to make any inroads down the left-hand side for North End.
Speaking after the game, Neil was keen to stress that Sinclair’s lack of game time in Scotland in the first-half of this season meant the 30-year-old was never going to be rushed into the lineup here, and that rustiness did seem to show.
But with Preston struggling to create much across the course of 90 minutes on Saturday, they will surely be hoping Sinclair is able to get up to full speed sooner rather than later.