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First Team News

Neil: "There's Still Work To Be Done"

18 July 2017

Although pleased with the endeavour and application shown from the players tonight, Alex Neil believes there's still plenty of room for improvement between now and the start of the season.

The boss chose a North End side for just the second time this evening after watching his first match from the touchline at the weekend against Stockport County.

Goals from former Shrimp, Tom Barkhuizen and Ben Pearson gave North End a 2-0 victory ensuring their 100 percent pre-season record remains intact. 

Neil this time opted to start a side for the first 60 minutes, before swapping ten players for the final half hour, with Daniel Johnson the only man to play the whole 90.

"We're making steady progress," said Neil in his post-match thoughts to iFollow this evening.

"As the half wore on, we got better - I thought in the first 15 minutes of the second half was our best spell. We moved the ball well and dictated the play well, but I didn't think we were aggressive enough with our passing at times in the first half.

"I think we can play forward a bit quicker and I think we can be more adventurous when we've got the ball - but as you can see the lads are taking everything on board and they're trying to implement it.

"We were totally dominant in the game and we controlled the ball for pretty much the full match; created some good chances - so there's definitely some things to still work on but as a starting point I think the lads have done really well."

North End took the lead late in the first half, with Barkhuizen, returning to the Globe Arena since making the switch from Morecambe to PNE in the middle of last season opening the scoring with a tidy finish past the goalkeeper, and the gaffer praised the forward after making it three goals in three games. 

He continued: "We've played Tom off the flank in each of the games and what he does well is drift in through the line really well. He's hard to pick up as he plays inbetween people - he's really sharp off the mark and finishing wise he's excellent so I'm really pleased for him."

With the games coming thick and fast now as preparations for the new campaign continue, Neil also outlined his plans to iFollow ahead of the next week or so.

"The lads played 60 and 30 tonight and the lads who played 30 tonight will play 60 tomorrow and vice versa; come Saturday, some of the boys will get 90 in there legs and it'll be similar on Tuesday, then we've got Fleetwood on Friday evening where they'll be more players with 90 minutes under their belt and then we'll crack on and get ready for the following week.

"In training you can replicate things as much as you like but the pressures of performing in a game and performing against a set up where you don't know what they're going to be doing is very different. 

"I can set two teams up and they can play against each other in training but what tends to happen is all of the players adopt your style of play, but during the season we'll play against teams with different styles of play and it's how we adapt and cope with that - I thought our physicality tonight and dealing with straight balls and second balls was excellent and when we did get a chance we made it big and moved the ball well.

"It's pleasing where we are at the moment but we've still got work to do before the season starts."

The full video of Alex Neil's post-match thoughts on tonight's win over Morecambe will be posted tomorrow morning.  

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