The North End manager admitted that he gave the players both barrels at half-time before the Lilywhites came from a goal down to defeat Peterborough at Deepdale.
The PNE gaffer told the press after the game that he was livid at the first half display and left the players knowing in no uncertain terms that what he had seen until the equaliser – in the final minute of the opening period – wasn’t up to the standards required.
“I am pleased now; I wasn’t so pleased after about 43 minutes!” He said. “We were second best, we didn’t get on the ball, we didn’t pass it well enough and we looked very average, so I wasn’t happy at half-time.
“The goal came at a massive time, just before the break, to give everybody a bit of a lift, but I wasn’t too happy with how we played.
“We have always said that when we play with an urgency and a tempo off the ball, closing down and picking up second balls, then we play better as a team with it. We pass it quicker, we have more options and in the first half it was too pedestrian, but we got there in the end and it is a good victory.”
The Posh’s opener came from a mistake in the middle of the park, but it was North End’s own pressing game that brought a change in fortunes.
“Neil [Kilkenny]doesn’t need anyone to remind him [about the error that led to Danny Swanson’s opner] – but we did!” Continued Simon. “It was a poor piece of decision making, but it epitomised our performance in the first half.
“We were laboured, we didn’t pass it well, we went too long and they had two big centre halves in their back three and we played it too easily into their hands.
“We had to move the ball quicker; we had to play a different type of football. We didn’t have to put it into the box too early and too often – we had to work it a little bit better and get it into the strikers around the box and get midfield players to support.
“To be fair to the players, they accepted the criticism at half-time, came out and had a right good go. We rode our luck as well, because one or two things in our 18 yard box went our way, in terms of players blocking things, but it was a good victory in the end.”
One player singled out for praise by the Preston chief was Stuart Beavon, starting his first game since mid-December: “We encourage the players to shoot as often as possible and one or two things have dropped for us tonight, whereas other times things have not quite happened for us.
“Tonight, in the second half in particular, I thought the front two were a real handful. I thought Stuart Beavon was outstanding and I thought the supporters acknowledged the work he did tonight.
“I thought his contribution to the game was outstanding and he has not played too much over the past few months, but we have seen how hard he’s been working in training, he affected the game at the weekend and credit to him, he’s affected the game tonight and looked very sharp.”
Whilst Irish teenager Alan Browne impressed his manager with his debut display, after coming on for the final 12 minutes, when North End scored their goals.
“I was really pleased for Alan. He came on and did well. He’s at a young age; he’s adapted to the first team really well and the way he came on with his socks and his shirt on, he looks like a throw back to Sir Tom’s age.
“It was something I had to consider [bringing him on ahead of more experienced players]; people might have thought I should take a striker off and bring another on, but we felt the strikers were doing nothing wrong, we just needed a little bit more in the middle of the pitch and Alan can do that.
“He made a couple of great tackles and he had energy about him and he helped get us over that line. Sometimes the obvious decision isn’t the right one,” he added.