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First Team News

Alex Neil: I Can't Speak Highly Enough Of The Players

29 December 2017

Manager Alex Neil was delighted with his side's effort and application after their late win at the Cardiff City Stadium in their first at the venue.

The Lilywhites had skipper Tom Clarke to thank for the three points, recording his second goal since his return from injury, heading home in the final minute to give the yellows their first win against the Bluebirds since another popular defender Youl Mawene gave them a 1-0 win in front of the TV cameras on a Friday night back in 2004.

And the North End boss felt his side deserved the three points, after recording their 11th clean sheet of the campaign in the principality.

"I thought over the piece we were the better side;" he told iFollow PNE after the game."I thought it was a bit of a scrappy game at times; the ball went back to front very quickly.

"I thought in the first half we had some good phases of play and got in behind the midfield quite a lot, but our final ball in that final third area let us down. I thought the substitutes in the game made a big impact ñ Callum and Josh were good for us, so that was pleasing and I thought that was a good solid performance.

"That is now 11 clean sheets we have kept and Greg Cunningham is back in for his first game since August and I thought he was excellent.

"We had a lot of good performances; Alan Browne was excellent with his energy in the middle of the pitch, so it was really, really pleasing. I thought the boys worked their socks off and if anybody deserved to win it, then it was us."

The gaffer was also delighted by the work done against different styles of opponents to keep winning: "The one thing we have done this year is that we have played some good footballing teams and we have found a way to beat them," he continued. "We have also come [to Cardiff] and played against teams who turn the ball forward and make the game a bit scrappy and fight for every ball and we have shown we can beat them as well.

"Our team keep going to the end, they never give in and they got another clean sheet and the boys have done great for us and they deserved the three points."

He also said that the team are enjoying their football and growing in confidence, as they moved to within one point of the Play-Off positions with the win.

"The lads are really enjoying it. That is nine games unbeaten, with five wins and four draws, so at any level that is good.

"Cardiff is a very difficult place to come ñ that is only their second home defeat of the season and so to come here and win on their own patch was very good. I am sure they would have been wanting a response, because they have lost two games on the bounce, so it speaks volumes of our group."

Alex reserved special praise for his returning defenders Greg Cunningham and Tom Clarke, the former getting through over 80 minutes after his first game in four months.

"He's funny Greg. He's such a warrior on the pitch, but off the pitch he is quite a quiet lad and even when he came off I asked him how he was feeling and he said 'I'm fresh for Monday', so that pretty much sums him up!

"It's great to have him back; he was captain when Tom was out, but Tom has come back now and got another goal for us today and I can't speak highly enough of the players.

"The fans that travelled all the way down as well; the players went over and saw them at the end and rightly so.

"It is great just now; if you are involved with Preston North End, we are in a really good spot."

To watch the full video on iFollow PNE, click on the link at the top of the page.


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