A disappointing afternoon for PNE resulted in their first defeat in seven games after Millwall’s Shaun Hutchinson scored the only goal of the game late on.

There weren’t too many performances that stood out yesterday, but as Alex Neil said post-match, the team performed exceptionally well in the two games previous and will no doubt move on to the next game at home against Hull City ready to bounce back after a week to get some rest and some more time out on the training pitch.

This is how we rated the players at Deepdale:

Declan Rudd

A solid performance from Declan, who dealt with everything Millwall had to throw at him in the early stages.

Did well to re-adjust and save a deflected Tom Bradshaw effort in the first half, before combining with Bauer to narrow the angle when Millwall’s number nine was sent clean through in the second half. Could do nothing about the goal.

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Rating – 7

Tom Clarke

With Darnell Fisher injured, the natural replacement against a side as physical as Millwall had to be captain Tom Clarke.

His attacking qualities are always going to be limited – that’s just the type of player he is. I thought he dealt well with the dual threat of Bodvarsson and Wallace in the first half but struggled more in the second half.

If Bodvarsson’s first touch was better he could have easily had more influence on the game.

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Rating – 5

Patrick Bauer

Bauer marshalled the troops well throughout. He had his hands full with Bradshaw in the air and broke up play well.

His distribution gets better week on week and he even stepped forward into attacking midfield on several occasions, as well as an excellent cross into the six-yard box which was eventually cleared.

Did well to prevent Bradshaw from opening the scoring in the second half.

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Rating – 7

Ben Davies

Just as we are accustomed to seeing from North End’s number six, Ben looked comfortable and composed at the heart of the backline, apart from one almost costly mistake in the second half when Bradshaw took the ball off him too easily.

That was the one blot on the copybook after a stellar performance in midweek at Stoke.

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Rating – 6

Andrew Hughes

Probably had the toughest job of any North End player yesterday, fending off the impressive Wallace and Romeo on Millwall’s right flank.

Like the rest of the team, he dealt with that threat well in the first half but was left exposed on a couple of occasions in the second.

He did look for the backwards pass on several occasions instead of options further forward, but Hughesy is coming back from a number of relatively serious injuries when grouped together so I think it’d be fair to scrutinise him more a few games down the line.

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Rating – 6

Ben Pearson

My man of the match in a Preston shirt. Pearo was the driving force behind everything that North End did in an attacking sense and he also did his job defensively as always, charging around relentlessly to cut out Millwall attacks.

Couldn’t find that defence-splitting pass that he has done in the last couple of games recently, but did pretty much everything else.

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Rating – 8

Alan Browne

The big question pre-match was whether Browne would be passed fit for this one, given the ankle injury he suffered at Stoke.

He kept his place in the starting XI but it was a relatively quiet afternoon for the Irishman overall. His movement did seem slightly restricted and with Millwall pressing higher up in the second half, he struggled to impose himself on the game.

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Rating – 5

Tom Barkhuizen

A solid performance today from Barky. Relentlessly ran the channels and had the beating of Wallace early on, squaring a cross to Daniel Johnson whose effort was well saved by Bialkowski.

Had strong claims for a penalty turned down when he appeared to be brought down in the box. Also had a couple of half-chances which didn’t test the Millwall goal.

He was deployed as a right full-back later on in the game as Bauer pushed forward into the attack, and performed admirably in that position.

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Rating – 7

Daniel Johnson

Another North End player who had a relatively quiet game. Millwall, to their credit, appeared to target Johnson as the major threat and as a result, he had little space to work with.

Had a well-struck effort saved by Bialkowski in the first half and played some neat passes as Alex Neil’s men looked to wrestle the game back in their favour in the second half, but in the end, DJ wasn’t able to have that defining influence.

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Rating – 6

Scott Sinclair

When Scott was brought in I thought it would take him a few games to get up to match sharpness. His signing from Celtic came off the back of having played just four times for Neil Lennon’s side since the start of August, starting only once against CFR Cluj in the Europa League.

The signs are promising with Scott and although he did drift in and out of the game yesterday, as Millwall had three men on him at some points, whenever he gets the ball in an attacking area you always feel as if he could create something.

It didn’t happen for him yesterday but the sharper he gets, the more vital moments (like the Swansea goal) we are likely to see.

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Rating – 6

David Nugent

Nuge was handed a start by Alex Neil after his impressive cameo off the bench against Stoke, and he performed admirably.

You won’t see many taller centre-halves around than Millwall’s Jake Cooper and Nuge won 4 aerials in the games yesterday, the same as the 6′ 4″ Cooper. He did miss a close-range chance in the first half when he was off balance.

He is also becoming a competent influence on the right-wing as well and combined well with Barkhuizen and Johnson. Was subbed late on for Maguire having done his job.

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Rating – 6

Substitutes

Paul Gallagher 

Replaced the tiring Browne on 65 minutes. Had a well-struck free-kick from 25 yards denied by a good low save from Bialkowski and performed his defensive duties when required as well.

His delivery from corners wasn’t quite as accomplished as usual but Gally always has that pinpoint cross in his locker at some point.

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Rating – 6

Josh Harrop

Was a noticeable increase in energy when Harrop entered the fray on 65 minutes.

Put in a few teasing balls into the box and had the guile to run at and beat several Millwall defenders on a driving run. A solid performance off the bench.

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Rating – 6

Sean Maguire

Was always going to be a difficult arena for Seani to enter with the power and height of the Millwall backline but he did manage to find himself in some promising positions when balls into the box did arrive.

I have no doubt that there will be other games where he can have more of an influence.

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Rating – 6

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