Greg Cunningham admitted it was a ‘hugely frustrating’ feeling to concede a late winner at the Den as Mason Bennett scored four minutes from time to hand the hosts a 2-1 win.
Ched Evans had given North End the lead barely ten minutes in with a brilliant volley from outside the box but Scott Malone also struck in style before half-time, with Bennett’s strike at the death then sealing it for the Lions.
The 30-year-old, who captained the side on the night in the absence of skipper Alan Browne, told iFollow PNE it was a humbling feeling to wear the armband, but that couldn’t detract from his disappointment.
“From a personal point of view, it was a great honour to wear the armband again. That aside, it was hugely frustrating,” said Greg.
“I felt the game plan was executed pretty well. I thought we frustrated them and stopped that space in behind, especially first half. Going 1-0 up, I thought we were pretty comfortable, and then they score a really good goal. You kind of take your hat off to that.
“But second half, I think as the game’s going on, you’re saying to yourself, ‘You’ve just got to see it out, we could create a chance here,’ but if not, then it’s a dirty 1-1 draw away from home at Millwall and you go home on the road. To concede so late on in the manner we did is so frustrating.
“Ched [Evans] has been phenomenal and it’s a top-class finish by him. It’s hugely, hugely frustrating. We worked on it and we knew what was going to come but ultimately the second goal we got done on what we knew was going to come. We have to dust ourselves off and learn from our mistakes and get ready for Saturday.”
The Irishman felt North End’s game plan was affective but that they needed to hold on for a point with the scoreline having been locked level for so much of the game.
“We have to take the positives from the game, look at the mistakes and learn from that too, because if we don’t look at that side of the game then we’re never going to improve as a team. I thought the boys worked very hard, there’s no question of commitment there, it’s just a couple of lapses in concentration and a wonder strike.
“In saying that, I thought the game plan and the way we were set up – we knew what was coming and it was affective. Worst case scenario, especially going in at half-time, we’ve got to just see the game out and then it’s a hard-fought point at The Den – simple.
“I think as the first half was going on, we were very comfortable – comfortable in possession and frustrating them and restricting them an awful lot. Then Malone’s put one in the top bins. You could say, ‘Can we close it down?’ but he’s struck it from 20-plus yards and it’s gone into the top corner.
“Sometimes you take your hat off to strikes like that and as the second half is going on, it’s getting a little bit ugly and no one is really getting a foothold in the game and then it’s just a case of seeing it out and unfortunately we weren’t able to do that today.”
Bournemouth are next up for the Lilywhites, back at Deepdale this Saturday, and Greg said all focus will now turn to the weekend.
“The Championship is relentless so we need to make sure we recover well and we get back home safe, we rest up and we get out on the training pitch and correct our wrong from today and look to Bournemouth.”
Watch more from Greg on iFollow PNE.