JOHN Coleman has told his Accrington Stanley players to aspire to be like friendly Championship side Preston North End in order to achieve their League Two goals.

The Reds lost 3-2 to the Deepdale outfit in midweek, having suffered a narrow defeat to Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town and 3-3 draw with an Everton XI in their other pre-season games.

And while Coleman has been encouraged by aspects of their performance he is hoping they can use the friendlies as a learning curve to help them improve.

"They were better than us," said Coleman of Preston. "Sometimes you've got to hold your hand up and say that.

"But there's food for thought. We've got to improve and strive to be like them.

"They passed the ball better than us.

"At times when we did keep the ball we looked good going forward, and I thought we defended quite well in the first half. It was just two moments of madness - they had two shots in the first half and scored with both and that was disappointing.

"Chappy (Luke Chapman) has made two great saves in the second half but I think he will feel he should have saved the first goal, which changes the complexion of the game.

"But they (Preston) moved the ball better than us and they made the pitch bigger, and that's something we've got to learn from - and we will.

"We have to work harder in and out of possession, certainly in possession we have to work harder.

"But our passing was nowhere near like it could be.

"Consequently it was a long night for us and we had to do a lot of work, but we will probably learn more (on Wednesday night) than we have in the previous games, so you have to be philosophical about it and just strive to be better."

And while Coleman admits there is still work to do before the 2017/18 campaign kicks off on August 5