Boss Ryan Lowe says Preston must develop a killer instinct to succeed this season after Birmingham’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw ended his 100 per cent league record in charge.
North End were two for two in the Championship since Lowe’s appointment in early December and looked on track for a third straight win when Patrick Bauer’s instinctive finish just after the half-hour mark put them 1-0 up at Deepdale.
While neither team had an abundance of clear-cut chances across the 90 minutes, the Lilywhites could have scored more with Emil Riis Jakobsen heading straight at Blues stopper Neil Etheridge, who also denied Brad Potts and Ched Evans in quick succession.
Instead, Birmingham snatched an 86th-minute equaliser when substitutes Jobe Bellingham, Ryan Woods and Scott Hogan combined for the latter to nod in from close range.
Lowe said: “I’m disappointed, I felt we had opportunities at 1-0 to finish the game off. I would have liked us to test the keeper a bit more.
“We are probably 60 per cent of where we want to be at the minute. We’ve got seven points out of nine so far, it’s good but we want to be better.
“I thought we were OK first half, we got into some good positions but we didn’t have that killer instinct and that killer pass.
“If you can’t finish them off, you’ve got to defend at the other end of the pitch and it was a sloppy one from us.
“We didn’t have that final touch in the final third, not for a lack of trying, we had opportunities to do that but it wasn’t to be, although I can’t question the effort and the attitude of the lads.
“Birmingham are fighting and they were never going to roll over, we just needed to get that second goal to finish it off.”
Birmingham hadn’t created huge amounts but Lee Bowyer’s triple substitution with 15 minutes to go paid dividends.
The 16-year-old Bellingham – younger brother of England international Jude and making his Championship debut – weaved past two Preston challenges and created an angle for Woods to deliver a cross into the box, which Hogan duly headed home.
Bowyer was chuffed to see the Republic of Ireland international of all people grab the equaliser.
“I’m really pleased because Scotty [Hogan] has had a tough week with some personal things going on away from the game,” said Bowyer, who declined to go into more specifics.
“I’m glad he got the goal and it is an important result for us away from home.”
Birmingham remain 18th in the Championship but are nine points above the drop zone and Bowyer enjoyed the fighting spirit shown by his troops to earn a point on the road.
He added: “I have to give the players full credit for the way they kept on going and pushing right until the end like that. I think we could have nicked a win.
“We dug deep and kept on pushing and fighting.
“I will always keep on fighting and pushing these players and they will keep fighting for the club and that’s what they’ve just done here, right until the end of the game.
“I thought from the second half we looked more likely to score than Preston did.
“They did hit us on the break a couple of times which was obviously going to happen because we were pushing for the equaliser late on.”
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