Ryan Lowe felt his side showed more aggression in the second half against Ipswich Town after a disappointing first 45 minutes in the pre-season friendly at Deepdale.
North End went a goal down 33 minutes in when Conor Chaplin fired past Freddie Woodman before the visitors from Suffolk doubled their lead in the second half through George Hirst.
Teenager Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile – one of several second-half substitutes – did pull one back for the hosts and also had another late effort chalked off for offside, so it was the Tractor Boys who came out on top.
They enjoyed the majority of the ball in the first half in particular and the PNE manager was disappointed with how his side went about their business in the opening period.
He said: “First half I don’t think we were anywhere near. They were obviously good in terms of moving the ball, but I thought we showed them a little bit too much respect.
“We didn’t get about them as much [as I’d have liked] and they controlled large parts of possession.
“They’re a good team and they do that, but we didn’t get in their faces enough and press them at the right times.
“I’m disappointed with the goal. It’s a big switch of play, a great touch from the lad and then a little pull back for a good finish, but we need to deal with that so that’s disappointing but it’s somewhere we can learn.
“In the second half I thought we had a little bit more impetus. We told the lads we needed a bit more aggression in the press and we did.
“We got a bit of energy on with the kids as well. No one likes getting beat of course, but I think it’s a good test for us.
“I think today was a different type of test of what we’ll face against good teams and we’ve got to be a lot better, and I stressed that to the players in there.”
One talking point of the evening was 16-year-old Rodriguez-Gentile again finding the scoresheet, for the third time in pre-season.
He took his goal well on the night, receiving the ball with his back to goal before turning and expertly finding the bottom corner.
The youngster could have scored another when he was sent through on goal and saw an effort deflect wide, and he then had another strike disallowed for offside late on.
“We have to be careful with him because he’s a baby,” the manager added.
“We don’t want him to get hurt. I think there was a time where he’s trying to burst through two centre halves and I think the two of them are probably double the size of him and they just shrug him off.
“He’s still a baby and if he was to be tackled off someone of Bambo’s size it’d probably cause him some damage so we do have to be careful with him, but technically, his ability and his awareness is brilliant.
“If you give him a chance like that in the penalty box he scores. He probably could have had a hat-trick.”
North End are next in action on Saturday afternoon when Scottish Premiership outfit Aberdeen visit Deepdale, and the gaffer is hoping to have a couple of players back available for selection.
New signing Duane Holmes should be fit and ready to feature, and there’s also a possibility that former Dons defender Calvin Ramsay could make the weekend.
The match will come too soon for Ben Whiteman who is back running after a hernia operation and it’s hoped he’ll be back in time for the opening match of the season, while Andrew Hughes is now back in full-contact training.
Ryan said: “They’re on their way. It’s a bit disappointing because we’d like them now when they can have games, hence why we might change the week a little bit next week.
“We’ll see what that looks like because it’ll be important to get some tactics into them before the following week, where we can have a bit more also.
“I’d have liked them to have been with us a little bit earlier and get a bit more fit, but as long as we’ve got them fit and available for Bristol City I’ll be happy.”