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First Team News

Lack Of Experience Hurt Us Says Alex Neil

28 October 2017

Alex Neil felt North End's inexperience cost them as the Lilywhites' unbeaten home record came to an end.

Despite the best efforts of Sean Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen who both drew PNE level after goals from Nico Yennaris, and Romaine Sawyers gave Brentford the lead twice, a decisive goal from Ollie Watkins on 69 minutes ensured the visitors headed back to the Capital with maximum points.

North End were dealt with a hammer blow in the build up to the game when Ben Davies was sidelined with appendicitis meaning Calum Woods had to fill in at centre back alongside Paul Huntington.

Davies' injury meant he joined the long list of casualties at the back, with Greg Cunningham, Tom Clarke, Tommy Spurr and Marnick Vermijl all out of action, and although Neil credited his side's effort this afternoon, he felt the lack of experience from his team showed at times throughout the game.

"We've done well this season without those players, but I think that's why they're called experienced players because over a sustained period - I think young players can always come in and have an impact and do well but it's maintaining those levels week after week in a really tough division.

"But equally, I didn't think there was a lot in the game - they had good spells and we had good spells but unfortunately for us - when they had their good spells they scored more goals than us.

"I thought we started the game well but then I thought they then had a 15 to 20 minute spell when they scored where they were dominant for. I don't think we were aggressive enough in terms of pressing and getting after the ball which is completely unlike us and then I thought we scored a good goal, and when we did, we got a bit of confidence from that.

"I thought we finished the half well, and at the start of the second half we started well again.

"However, they then get their second goal which was disappointing from our point of view as Calum's had to go off with a bust nose and they've played the match on, especially when the free kick's been taken short, and it goes further away from out goal, we would have thought that Calum could have gone back on to the pitch but we've got to do better; even the goal itself is a deflection and it flies into the bottom corner and sometimes they trickle past the post but unfortunately for us, when we are getting done, they're finding the back of the net.

"We rallied again and scored a second goal - and at that point - looking at us, we looked like the team that was going to win the game but then we get done with a lack of experience at the back at the moment which can tell a little bit.

"Some of the younger lads have done great, but over a sustained period of time, you need to make sure you've got some experience through your team, and unfortunately for us, it's the same area where we've been hit quite a lot.

"We've lost Tommy Spurr, Ben Davies, Tom Clarke and Greg Cunningham so it's really that left side of the defence that is really hurting us.

"John Welsh was also missing today and that's not an excuse but it certainly doesn't help our case and now Paul Huntington is suspended for Wednesday so it's another patch work at the back in terms of getting an organisation and shape about us for guys who aren't predominantly playing in that position."

Nonetheless, Neil was adament that his side would dust themselves down, regroup, and look to get back to winning ways despite the injury list ahead of another fixture at Deepdale where Aston Villa are the visitors this time at Deepdale on Wednesday night.

"Once you've lost a game, you want to get back on the pitch as soon as you can to put it right. There's a lot of frustrations from today that hopefully we can try and alleviate come Wednesday and hopefully put a good performance on."


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