Alex Neil bemoaned North End’s slow start this afternoon after conceding within the first 15 minutes dur today's 1-0 defeat away to Reading.
The gaffer was far from happy with the first 45 minutes which saw Mo Barrow head in after just 12 minutes on the referee’s stop watch - and also felt the fact that Reading drew first blood in the game was instrumental in the Lilywhites’ defeat at the Madejski.
“We’ve come unstuck recently because we’ve conceded that first goal,” analysed the manager after the game.
"Teams have scored and then resorted to sitting behind the ball which makes it hard for us to break them down. We’ve created chances today like we did in the last game, but we just couldn’t find that little bit of magic to put the ball in the back of the net.
“We did not perform well enough in that first half. The second half we stepped up our games and the lads who came on contributed and did well but we’re at the business end of the season and points are more important that performances right now.”
North End fought back in the second half with the manager making two substitutions at half-time which saw Tom Clarke and Sean Maguire come on for Ben Davies and Louis Moult, and despite creating a number of chances to win the game, they couldn’t find that elusive equaliser.
"We hit the post twice and we had two or three really good opportunities which we’re hoping we can do a bit better with,” continued a frustrated Neil post-match.
I thought second half, we made a couple of changes and got a lot better which is the one thing I will say.
“The way we’ve played all year, we need to perform well enough to win - we’re not a stuffy team that sits behind the ball; We go out to win the game but that first goal’s been crucial.
“We had enough opportunities to get that goal and I think if you do get that goal, the next goal’s the winner because they’re just going to burst out to get that winner because they needed the win. We didn’t start well, they get the first goal and they win the game and I think in recent weeks when he have been chasing the game, it’s not been our strongest suit.”
The manager also felt that North End were lacking a real target man today, and having coped relatively well without Jordan Hugill since his deadline day move in January, the Scotsman spoke to iFollowPNE about missing his presence in the last couple of games.
The manager continued: “I think for the last two weeks, I’ve not mentioned Jordan since he’s left but we’ve probably struggled without a target man in terms of when we do get balls in the box.
"Because of the stature of a target man like Jordan, people get attracted towards them which gives space for others and I think Jordan’s presence has been lacked in the last couple of games because teams sit that deep; we had a target man to attack that ball and to have that cleverness to move and get in front of people and we unfortunately without that, we've struggled to break teams down recently.”
Watch Alex's full interview on iFollowPNE now.