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First Team News

Neil Credits Opposition Game Plan After Goalless Draw

23 September 2017

First Team News

Neil Credits Opposition Game Plan After Goalless Draw

23 September 2017

North End boss Alex Neil felt Millwall did well in making it difficult for his side this afternoon after the Lilywhites couldn't find that all important winner.

Neil's side have been relentless at Deepdale so far this season recording three victories and one draw on home territory, but it was that run of form that would have made their opponents weary of North End's threat at Deepdale.

As a result, PNE were involved in a real battle in finding space in the final third, and the Lions managed to keep a side that had scored six goals in two games at bay.

"It was a frustrating afternoon," said Neil in his post-match comments to iFollow. "It was going to be one of those games in that it was a different test to us.

At home, the majority of games that we've faced the opposition have been quite open - probably excluding Barnsley - I thought it was quite a similar game to Barnsley but I thought Barnsley had more clear cut chances.

"Millwall sat behind the ball and made it difficult for us. Defensively we were solid which is good and we kept another clean sheet but offensively, we didn't move the ball quick enough and our crossing wasn't good enough and our set plays were poor.

"The wee bits of quality that you need to have to unlock oppositions when they play that way - we didn't have - however, we did have the best chance of the game and it's one of them games that if you win 1-0, you dust yourself down and you move on to the next one but unfortunately we didn't take the chance today.

"Millwall arguably are at the same position we were at the start of the season thinking 'okay you think you're better than us, let's go and see how much you want it and how prepared you are to work for it' and they did that today.

"I thought it was a hard game and I thought the boys matched them in endeavour but it just didn't happen today." 

The closest the Lilywhites came to three points came midway through the second half when Josh Harrop couldn't quite his set his feet right in time to bundle the ball into the net yet Neil felt his side didn't do themselves justice this afternoon.

"He just didn't make a clean connection with it," said Neil on that chance. "Technically, Josh is more than good enough to put that away but unfortunately he didn't make a good connection and unfortunately it didn't go in.

"That's frustrating as that's the best chance of the match and sometimes them moments can define games really and if we'd have scored that and got the three points, people would have said yes we were the better team but we didn't play great but got the three points but unfortunately we didn't do that today."

North End made two changes to the one that beat Birmingham City a week ago, with John Welsh coming into the side for Alan Browne, whilst Calum Woods made way for Darnell Fisher after the full back returned from an injury set back.

Despite the returning Fisher, there was still no Ben Pearson in the side who is still sidelined from injury, and the gaffer believed Pearson's influence could have been the difference today.

He continued: "Ben Pearson is probably a big key for us at the moment because he allows us to build through the middle, more so than what we're doing just now. John Welsh did an unbelievable job for us today but I would describe him as a more defensive type of player than what Ben would be.

"Ben has got more attacking attributes than John, but John did magnificently well for us but I didn't think our quality going forward from midfield into the forwards was particularly great.

"When it did get there we made some poor decisions which is frustrating as the last two games, we've created some great opportunities and scored them, but today, that didn't happen but we've got a young group and I think the level of expectation with the good start we've had is always going to rise and people think we should just come here and beat Millwall but unfortunately we didn't do that today."

For more reaction from the gaffer, watch the full interview on iFollow now.

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