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First Team News

Gaffers Delight After His Side Seize An ‘Opportunity’

3 February 2018

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First Team News

Gaffers Delight After His Side Seize An ‘Opportunity’

3 February 2018

Alex Neil spoke of his satisfaction to iFollow post-match after his side claimed what he felt was a real opportunity for them to close the gap on the Play-Offs.

Greg Cunningham and Alan Browne’s first half goals sealed the three points for Neil’s side which saw them up to seventh place, and Neil was pleased that his side could take full advantage of the slip ups of the sides in and around them in the table.

After the game, the gaffer said: “We knew that this was going to be an opportunity to claim some points over other teams around us as they were playing each other and we couldn’t let this opportunity pass us by.

“I don’t think we started great, but after they scored their first goal, we played a lot better, turned the ball better and made them drop off as we wanted to try and squeeze up the pitch.

“We showed real resilience in the first half after we conceded the goal because we needed a response, and the response we got didn’t surprise me when you take into account the characters we’ve got in the dressing room.

“We rallied and rolled our sleeves up and we did what was required to win the game which is the most pleasing part for us.

“The stats show they had one shot on target and it was a deflection which was really harsh on Dec as it looped into the far corner, but like everything else, you need to respond and I think getting the goal, particularly the second was crucial.

"Getting the lead at half-time gave us confidence to go out in the second half, and I thought 20 minutes into the second half was our best spell in the game.

“Ben Pearson picks up an injury in the middle of the park which left us a bit short in terms of aggressive tackling type players, and we had more football minded type players, so we needed those players to roll their sleeves and do the nasty side of the game to see it out, and I thought our defence again performed very well.”

North End scored their second goal from a corner in as many games after Greg Cunningham rose highest to head Paul Gallagher’s set play in at the near post, and Neil divulged to iFollow after the game that it was the shrewd thinking of his backroom staff that saw the left back in the box in the first place.

“Frankie (McAvoy) and Thommo (Steve Thompson) deserve a lot of credit for that,” continued the Scotsman.

“Those are the guys who’ve been working the set plays and they’re the guys that put Greg in the box as I would have put Alan Browne in there usually!

"All credit to Greg, it’s a great delivery from Paul Gallagher and great aggression from Greg to going up to head it so we’re really pleased."

On the second goal which came from the penalty spot, Neil added: “I’ll be honest, at the time I wasn’t sure that it was a penalty, but having seen it back on many occasions it’s a definite penalty.

"Billy’s managed to win us two penalties in two games and that’s what Billy does, he affects games, and that’s the biggest thing you can do as a forward player, and he’s settled in really well and I still think there is more to come from him which is really pleasing.”

The gaffer couldn’t sign off his interview without reserving special praise for today’s man of the match, Alan Browne who in typical Alan Browne fashion, adapted his game to different situations depending on the current state of the match leaving the manager with one word to describe the Irishman’s performance.

“Incredible,” stated the gaffer on Browne’s performance. “His legs are incredible, I’ve always been a big fan of Alan as everybody knows but in these two games he’s stepped it up a notch.

"You can literally ask him to do any job as he’s equipped as an athlete and as a player and his technical ability has improved no end and he will be a top, top player.”

Watch the full post-match interview with the gaffer on iFollow PNE now by clicking on the video above.

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