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First Team News

Relief More Than Joy For Gaffer After Late Winner

2 December 2017

In the midst of Jordan Hugill’s late winner, Alex Neil told iFollow he was more relieved than elated after North End got back to winning ways at Deepdale.

Jamie Mackie’s red card after just 20 minutes arguably changed the dynamics of the game with Ian Holloway’s side forced to retreat to hold onto the draw. 

It meant that breaking QPR’s resolve was made all the more difficult with the visitors resolute in their defending, only for Jordan Hugill to meet a Paul Gallagher through ball to slot home with just two minutes of normal time remaining.

“It’s probably joy for the fans,” said Neil post-match; “but relief for me as when you’re playing against a team down to ten men, there’s an expectancy to roll them over and win the game. 

“Having played with ten men ourselves this season - we know it’s not as simple as that. 

“The supporters are obviously desperate to get that goal - and we’re the same and you could see the relief of the players at the end.”

Neil made the proactive decision to take off the returning skipper Tom Clarke and Alan Browne at half-time, bringing on Kevin O’Connor and Josh Harrop, and Neil stated to iFollow that the changes were tactical rather than enforced.

“I thought at times we moved the ball a bit slow,” continued the gaffer. 

“I made the changes at half-time because I thought we needed technicians in the middle areas to move up the pitch quickly. 

“Josh Harrop - whose technically very good - to get in-between the lines and I wanted to keep width where obviously you get with natural full backs as Ben Davies started the game at left back.

“I think if you don’t get the goal, you get criticised for making the wrong decision and if you get the goal - they’ll probably say well, we got there in the end. I’ve got to do what I think is right to get the three points.

“I’m really pleased for the players, especially when you consider the effort they’ve put in to get that goal but we’re just delighted to get that win.”

Prior to his substitution, Clarke’s admission into the starting XI was met with joy from the supporters after seven months out through injury, and the gaffer was delighted to hand the skipper with his first start of the season.

“Tom’s very important to us," added Neil. "He’s played one game (in the mid-week Lancashire Senior Cup fixture) which just shows how highly I regard him.

“We’ve picked up seven points from nine having been through a difficult spell but I’ll always say that people should judge us when we’ve got our players back. It’s another clean sheet today and a move in the right direction. 


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