Reacting to the 4-0 defeat to Middlesbrough, manager Ryan Lowe felt disappointed to send the travelling Preston North End supporters home without a positive result, on their annual Gentry Day.
PNE fell behind after the division’s top scorer Chuba Akpom secured his 24th Championship goal in the 22nd minute, but that was all that would come from the first half.
Once the second period of action had commenced, former PNE loanee Cameron Archer registered a brace and Marcus Forss found the back of the net in the final minute of added time.
Ryan told iFollow PNE: “My apologies, because we should have given them a better output in terms of performance, on a special day and a special occasion.
“For their Gentry Day, we wanted to make sure that we could send them home happy.
“They were fantastic and their attitude – singing right the way through and holding some of Middlesbrough’s fans to less noise – I thought they were excellent.
“So a big thank you from me. I’m sorry we couldn’t get the points for them or a result on Gentry Day but hopefully next time.”
The defeat at the Riverside Stadium marked the end of PNE’s seven-game unbeaten run and the beginning of the international break, with derby day against Blackpool on the horizon at Deepdale next month.
However, Ryan acknowledged that improvements could have been made in this Gentry Day fixture and the quality of a strong Boro side – pushing for automatic promotion to the Premier League – shone through.
Ryan said: “We didn’t make enough tackles really; we didn’t get about them enough as we’d liked.
“I don’t mind conceding any goals, especially when they’re good ones, but the goals we’ve conceded, they’ll be good on their behalf, but we could have done a lot of better things before it’s got to that.
“Whether that’s making a challenge, whether that’s pulling someone around. I thought our defending wasn’t as great as it’s been but what I will say is the lads have been fantastic for the seven games we were unbeaten and maybe this week’s just caught up with us.
“I’m not making any excuses. We weren’t good enough and they were better than us today and they deserve the points and the goals, but we needed to do a little bit more, show a little bit more, which we’ve shown of late.”
A cause for concern was the injury for Greg Cunningham, who needed substituting after 28 minutes, and the absence of PNE’s top scorer this season, Ched Evans.
The Welsh striker took a hit to the neck region in Tuesday night’s 2-1 away win at Rotherham, which he scored in, and as a result he didn’t make up the travelling squad for the Middlesbrough clash.
Ryan said: “Let’s start off with Greg first – he’s obviously come off and Greg doesn’t come off, but we won’t make any decisions on that until we’ve had it scanned and looked at properly, but he doesn’t go off the pitch if it’s nothing serious, so I’m hoping it’s not too bad.
“Then obviously with Ched – he’s had a scan on his neck where he’s taken a whack and he’s probably got a high volume of whiplash.
“He can’t actually look up, his back’s sore, so we’re definitely not going to risk that when there’s spinal cord involved.
“We’ve got to make sure that we can get him right. Next week, he’ll be with the physios all week, and then we’ll hopefully have him back for the Blackpool game.”