Shrewsbury Town boss Michael Jackson admits it will be "unbelievably difficult" for his side to avoid relegation from League 1 after their 5-2 loss at Preston North End.

Paul Gallagher netted a second-half hat-trick for North End to leave the Shrews six points from safety and needing to win their last two games to have any chance of staying up.

"This club is in a bad position at this moment in time, we're right up against it now," said Jackson. "It is not mathematically certain but we have to win our final two games and hope everyone else loses theirs.

"I'll never say that it is over. Obviously it is going to be unbelievably difficult but we've got to be better.

"It was a young squad and some of them have come up short in experience and in know-how against a really good Preston side.

"It's a learning curve for some of them but it is not a good learning curve for the club because their club is in the mire.

"I'd say today was a little bit of inevitability with the lads, they can't think that but then again some of them are young."

Lee Holmes headed in Gallagher's cross to put the hosts ahead before Bailey Wright volleyed in a second from the edge of the box.

Shaun Miller rounded Preston keeper Declan Rudd to make it 2-1 before Gallagher steered home Stuart Beavon's cross.

It got worse for the visitors as Connor Goldson upended Alan Browne in the box and Gallagher lashed in the penalty.

Shrewsbury pulled a goal back when substitute Luke Summerfield arrived late at the back post to head in John Taylor's cross but Gallagher grabbed his third in the 81st minute with a delightful 20-yard free-kick.

"To score five goals, get another three points and get four consecutive home wins is pleasing for us," said Preston boss Simon Grayson, whose side are guaranteed a place in the play-offs.

"I've said to the players that I'm delighted that we have had the victories and got the goals but there are certain things that we do need to do better.

"No disrespect to Shrewsbury, but if we do one or two things we did against better opposition in the play-offs then we will get punished.

"That may be a little bit unkind on players but we are working towards being perfectionists if possible.

"We have got to keep doing the right things, we've said all season we haven't had too many things that have gone against us because we have been very consistent.

"People will turn up and probably expect us to beat Shrewsbury because they are in the bottom four but we have to beat these teams and we have, we've put them to the sword."