Midfielder Jeff Hughes insists Fleetwood Town will learn from their Deepdale disappointment.
The Northern Irishman, who played his first full 90 minutes since January against Preston North End, claims Town were ‘bullied’ into surrendering a 2-0 lead but admitted Fleetwood had been naive in their first big Lancashire derby.
Hughes told The Gazette: “We were on top by far, we were comfortable and controlling the game from our shape.
“In posession and out of posession we really dictated what they did.
“It really couldn’t have gone any better.”
“They brought on a couple of subs they went long, very very direct and if I’m honest we got bullied a bit.”
Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander pointed the finger at striker Kevin Davies, who he insisted was given undue leniency by referee Eddie Ilderton.
Stephen Jordan had given Fleetwood a shock first minute lead, the former Preston triallist rising to head home a Stephen Schumacher corner after just 90 seconds.
A Scott Laird own goal gave Fleetwood hope of pulling off a famous victory.
But the introduction of Davies at the break swung the game in Preston’s favour and a second half hat-trick from Joe Garner handed the home side victory.
Hughes recognises the quality Town faces and knows they must adjust to come away from similar games with points.
He said: “Kevin Davies is a Premier League player, you’re not going to get many players like that in League One.
“But we are going to have to adjust.
“Big teams in League One are very big teams, they have players like that on the bench.
“We acquitted ourselves well but it’s hard to take.”
Town have now lost six in a row on the road, a record which doesn’t reflect many of their performances.
But Hughes made it clear it’s results that matter.
“We keep saying we’re playing well away from home but getting beat,” he told The Gazette.
“People just think you’re covering up.
“We’d rather we played awful on Saturday and won 3-2.
“It’s something we’re learning.
“In League One terms we’re still a young team, maybe we’re a little naive.
“We’re too over-eager going for balls and stuff, it’s something we’re going to have to learn.
“You can’t bully a bully.
“We can’t keep saying we’re unlucky.
“We’ve got to be better as a team.”
For Hughes the Deepdale clash was a first start since breaking his leg in a League Two game against Hartlepool United in January.
It’s been a long road to recovery and the former Notts County man admitted a full game in the cauldron of a derby day was a big ask.
“I’m sure it showed,” he joked
“I’m glad to have played in the last two and got 90 minutes in.
“Every time the board came up I was thinking it was for me.
“The gaffer has persisted and it’s probably the best thing for me.
“You couldn’t ask for a better game to come back in.
“I’m just disappointed with the result.”
Town remain 11th in League One and return to the home comforts of Highbury next weekend.
Town are unbeaten at home in the league since winning promotion.
They face Gillingham on Saturday afternoon.