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First Team News

Neil Pleased With Second Half Comeback

30 September 2017

Alex Neil was left satisfied with PNE's second half response but felt the inexperience of his side showed this afternoon.

Yet Neil reiterated that he was proud of the efforts of his players, both today and in recent weeks with North End missing several personnel, particularly in the centre of midfield this afternoon.

John Welsh joined fellow centre midfielder Ben Pearson and Paul Gallagher on the treatment table alongside long term absentees Tom Clarke and Greg Cunningham.

"I was asking a lot of some of the players today," said Neil to iFollow after the game.

"Josh Earl is only a kid and he's played a lot of games but I thought that these were the best guys to go and get the job done as they've been very consistent for me but to churn that out at this level is credit to them.

"We were missing John Welsh and Ben Pearson which meant DJ had to play deeper, which was good as it meant he had more of the ball and his passing his excellent but I don't think he's a naturally hard tackler that can sniff things out - win headers and be that shield sometimes that you need. They did well, particularly in the second half but unfortunately it wasn't enough."

North End trailed 1-0 going into the half-time interval through George Honeyman's effort midway through the first half, yet an action packed first 15 minutes of the second half which saw North End equalise, take the lead and pegged back again prove a key period in the game which saw both sides take a point.

Neil continued: "I think first half although we at times played some good stuff to watch, I don't think it was effective enough and we didn't create enough clear cut opportunities.

"Their centre forward cause us more problems then what we've seen this season and I thought they played effective football. I don't think it was particular pleasing on the eye by any means but when they did get it forward they moved the ball, put it wide and turned us.

"When they got free kicks they got everybody up, however, we should be strong enough to deal with that. If that's enough to beat you, then in my eyes you're never going to achieve anything and that was basically the team talk at half-time.

"We wanted to get the fundamentals rights, win your tackles, win your headers - and if it's on and there's a bit of space in behind get them turned and facing their own goal and I thought we did that really well at the start of the second half.

"We came out and showed a real response because I don't think we did ourselves enough justice in the first half, and I thought we were going to see it out.

"Unfortunately for us we made a couple of mistakes and a bit of movement for the first bit and we don't win the next bit which was the tackle which is important and that's really frustrating because if we see that out for the first five minutes then we go on to win the game. We huffed and puffed and pushed and tried to get a winner but we didn't really do enough to get another one."

The injuries mentioned previously will hopefully have been reduced by the time the next fixture comes around at Fulham in two weeks time, a period in which Neil labelled as 'really important'.

"It will be really important to get them back and I thought today, we looked a bit 'young' and our decision making was a bit naive at times but they gave us everything and we can go into the International break, relatively content with what we've done so far but we can get a few bodies back and go again.

"As a fan I want to see good goals and for my players to run until they drop and I think you've seen two great goals today and they've ran themselves into the ground so you always want a bit more quality and a bit better decision making at times but they're only young and they'll learn and get better and they're doing great just now.
To go eight games unbeaten at any level, the lads have done great and they should be content with what they've done and I hopefully we can kick on after this break."

Watch Alex Neil's full interview on iFollow above now.


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