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First Team News

Neil Frustrated But Proud Of His Players

20 February 2018

Manager Alex Neil had mixed emotions post match after seeing his side dominate Aston Villa for large parts of the game tonight.

It took a disputed spot kick from Lewis Grabban on 66 minutes to earn the Villans a point on their own patch after Tom Barkhuizen fired North End ahead, and Neil was - although frustrated with decisions out of his control, he left Villa Park this evening extremely proud after watching his players put in another outsanding away performance.  

"I want to talk about how good our team was as they were absolutely sensational tonight," prioritised Neil who was unhappy with the decision which resulted in a penalty.

"We came to Aston Villa - who have spent millions of pounds and dominated them on their own patch, and the only way they were going to score in the game is if they got a decision which, I’m not sure is a penalty.

"It’s the softest decision I’ve seen against us so it’s really frustrating but the one thing I will say is that I’m extremely proud of my team. They were magnificent to a man and we deserved to win the game and I don’t think there's any question about who was the better team."

Operating in a 4-4-2 system this evening, North End more than matched their opponents tonight, and arguably could have scored more - the only downside to what Neil hailed as one of the best away performances this season. 

"We changed the system tonight and played two up front with Louis Moult coming into the side who I thought did extremely well tonight.

"I thought that was the best way to go against Aston Villa and I thought the boys carried it out to an absolute tee. The only thing I can ask of them is that we should have took our chances better and we should have scored more goals because we created numerous chances tonight in good areas.

"We really hurt them and we probably couldn’t have played much better. It was arguably one of our best games of the season and I’m extremely proud of them because they gave me every single thing on the pitch.

"Aston Villa are the type of team where they’re compact and hard to get around and make you work hard to get your chances. I can’t be any happier with how we’ve played."

Ahead on the scoreline and in momentum, North End were cruelly denied three points through what looked like an extremely harsh penalty, and Neil gave his assesment of the incident to iFollow post match.

"I think the penalty is extremely cheap and the fact that the linesman has give it, not the referee makes it frustrating. 

"You can always tell by peoples reactions and if you look at our whole team’s reaction, the bench’s reaction and all of the fans reaction, I even looked a Steve Bruce who looked as if he was in shock that it was given.

"You don’t always get what you deserve and I’ve said to the players when you get knocked back, it should make you even more determined to put it right and hopefully we can take that into the next few games. 

"There’s so much potential in this team, but we need to realise that potential, I don’t want to be a glorious failure so what we need to do is to start winning games. We should have won tonight and hopefully we can take that frustration into Saturday."

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