Michael O’Neill took positives in the performance and the creation of chances after Stoke City drew at Preston – but knows they have to stop conceding free-kicks to let points slip away.
Stoke were dominant in a superb opening period that saw them take the lead with a brilliant Nick Powell header from a Josh Tymon cross.
But they couldn’t find a second and paid the price when they conceded a foul just outside their own area, with Ben Whiteman stroking home the equaliser.
Stoke upped the ante again in the second half but Preston, inspired by keeper Daniel Iversen, held firm for a point.
O’Neill was asked if it was two points dropped and said: “It’s always a point gained away from home but it does feel a little like two lost because I felt we were the dominant team for the majority of the game.
“The first 35 minutes I thought we were brilliant, some of our play. We should have been more than two ahead.
“Then we concede off the free-kick. It’s an excellent free-kick but we’ve been punished a couple of times from that. If you think back to the Barnsley game it wasn’t dissimilar and a similar sort of time in the game with Cauley Woodrow.
“We maybe have not got to concede them so easily. We missed two or three tackles and they were trying to get themselves back in the game feeding off the second ball.
“I thought in the second half our reaction was good because we controlled the game again, had chance and just couldn’t take them. On the balance of play there was only one team going to win it.”
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Stoke now sit fourth in the Championship with 18 points from their opening 10 games.
O’Neill added: “Listen, we’re 10 games into the season, 36 games to go. There’s a lot of people who will come here and draw games. The season isn’t going to be determined by results like this. We may look back and it actually turns out to be a good point.
“The main thing is that the level of performance of the team continues to improve and I believe over the long term that will get us the results that we aspire to get.”