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First Team News

Gaffer Frustrated For His Players After Boro Defeat

1 January 2018

Alex Neil told iFollow that his frustrations were more for the players rather than towards them after the Lilywhites were narrowly beaten by Middlesbrough this afternoon.

Neil’s side came from behind within 60 seconds after Daniel Ayala headed the visitors in front, with Callum Robinson getting on the end of a Tom Barkhuizen cross to make it 1-1.

North End’s second will be the one for the dubious goals panel to look at after Jordan Hugill’s header came off Daniel Ayala and into the net to send Neil’s side in front.

However, two unanswered goals from Boro through Jonny Howson, and a second from Ayala gave Boro the three points at Deepdale.

Speaking after a game in which North End were head and shoulders above their counterpart for large parts of the game, evident in the stats post-match, the gaffer showed his disappointment to the club’s media channel post-match.

“I thought we played very well but of course the most important thing is winning the game,” said Neil after the final whistle.

“I’ve got a real mix of emotions at the moment. For large parts of the game I was proud with how we played but then equally I’m frustrated about how we’ve conceded the goals as that’s been a real strong point for us this season through set plays which has been a real element of strength for us usually.

“The second goal is a bit of quality from Jonny Howson of which I’m fully aware of. I think we had about 20 shots on goal today but ultimately, we lacked that cutting edge when we got into important areas.

“For large parts of the game I thought we responded great and the performance was excellent. What changes the match is, you look around and see who they’re bringing on, the likes of Bamford and Gestede, Shotton as well who I think have all appeared in the Premier League, and Daryl Horgan was our only real attacking option we had available.

“We know we need to do some work in that area but I thought the boys worked extremely hard, and I’m so disappointed for them because I don’t think the best team won today.

“Some games at this level, when you get to the nit and gritty and you’re fighting at the top end of the table are decided on one part of the game. Whether you take the chance or whether you lose that header in your own box, and unfortunately for us, we didn’t take that chance and that’s the difference between the game.”

The gaffer made four changes to the side that beat Cardiff just two days before with one of those, seeing Josh Harrop coming back into the side, and Neil was impressed with the impact from the young midfielder.

“Josh has done really well recently. He’s had a big impact in certain games and I thought today would have suited him and it did. He played extremely well so he should be pleased with his performance.

“I thought the team selection was right I just felt as the game wore on we probably needed something, else and we didn’t really have anything so that was our biggest problem.”

Watch the full interview on iFollow PNE now by clicking on the video above. 

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