Preston North End's season is petering to a close, with neither relegation nor the playoffs on the cards following their defeat to Premier League-bound Fulham on Tuesday evening.
The Lilywhites missed a couple of early chances which might have sent the game in a different direction but, as it was, they were simply outclassed by their opponents on the day, with the Championship's arch marksman Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring two of the hosts' three goals and Fabio Carvalho notching the other.
Although a top six finish is still a distant mathematical possibility in this season of incredibly fine margins, North End's attention now turns to next season with nothing to play for in their remaining three league assignments.
Manager Ryan Lowe addressed the media after the match — these were his most noteworthy quotes.
On profligacy at one end and porousness at the other
This match played out as many neutrals might have expected it to, with the league-leaders having no trouble overcoming their mid-table visitors in west London — nonetheless, that wasn't enough to save Lowe from concerns over his side's performance on the night.
In particular, the manager was frustrated by how Preston competed in both boxes: giving soft goals away, and failing to capitalise on their own opportunities at the other end.
"We're disappointed that we've gifted them chances to score because they had a ruthless edge, but I'm disappointed that we haven't got on the scoresheet as well. They're a fantastic outfit and deserve to be where they are, but for us, we've got to put those chances away — if we do, the game turns out to be different."
It didn't take a genius to work out that Lowe was unhappy with his side's first-half performance. Ched Evans' forced withdrawal through injury after just 25 minutes limited Preston's tactical manoeuvrability somewhat but the manger still had a trick up his sleeve, introducing Bambo Diaby for Josh Earl at half-time in a switch to a back-four to match Fulham man-for-man across the pitch.
Perhaps it's testament to Lowe's tactical tweak that Preston fought their way to a 0-0 in the second 45 minutes, though it should be acknowledged that Fulham took their foot off the gas considerably in the second-half with promotion all but secured.
"We changed shape, brought Bambo and Scotty [Sinclair] on and Sean [Maguire] had to come on for Ched and he looked dangerous, but we just lacked a bit of quality unfortunately. At the end of the day we knew it was going to be a tough encounter at Craven Cottage when they're vying to get to the Premier League, which they've now done."
On the opposition
Lowe was complimentary of his side's opposition here, admitting like many of his opposite numbers in the Championship that they are a side more than deserving of their promotion.
But once again, the 43-year old reinstated his frustration at the manner of defeat, perhaps sensing that his side might have had an opportunity to spoil the party had they shown more composure in either box.
"Congratulations to Fulham, promoted to the Premier League where everyone aspires to be," said Lowe. "I thought we were in the game at different stages, we had some good opportunities, but you can't give a team who are on their way to the Premier League, and have got fantastic players, opportunities to score. Yes, they're still good goals on their behalf, but we gifted them."