Tony Mowbray felt Rovers’ naivety cost them, as Preston came from two goals down to secure the points at Deepdale.
Rovers led 2-0 at the break thanks to a Sam Gallagher brace – his first league goals since his return to the club – but the hosts turned it around after the interval through a Tom Barkhuizen double and a Daniel Johnson penalty.
Mowbray bemoaned a goalkeeping error for gifting Preston a route back into the game on 53 minutes and he was equally critical of the referee, who the manager felt had a big part to play in the disappointing defeat.
“I think if they don’t get the first goal, they probably don’t get any goals,” said the Rovers boss.
“I’m hugely disappointed. I think Christian knows that he has to see that out. I’m not sure if he even knows that the boy is there.
“It was a big mistake, a poor mistake, because you couldn’t see them scoring to be honest and then that got the crowd involved in the match.
“I think we were just a bit naïve today. There was an extraordinarily naïve official on the pitch today as well, who gave them what felt like 100 free-kicks, so that they could lump it in our box.
“He didn’t know a foul from a non-foul. He didn’t know a good pro trying to buy a foul from a genuine foul. That’s what I think.
“I’ve never seen so many six foot men on their backsides, falling over. That probably sounds like sour grapes, but that’s how I feel the momentum changed – too many free-kicks given to them, too many balls into our box that we didn’t deal with.
“Naivety was the issue today – not any lack of effort or desire. Naïve football and not managing the game. Preston are pretty good at it, but it’s not in my nature to tell players how to win free-kicks.”