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First Team News

Gaffer Pleased With Flexibility Of His Side

6 January 2018

Manager Alex Neil was pleased with how well his side led the line after North End hit Wycombe for five this afternoon.

The manager rested Chris Maxwell, Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Jordan Hugill with the latter’s omission seeing PNE’s forward line head into the game with a different approach to usual, and the gaffer was delighted with how they coped with the different scenario.

“It was always going to be a hard game as they’ve got a good record at home - I think their only loss was the last one in the last six games so we knew it was going to be tough for us,” said the gaffer post match.

“We made a couple of changes which is good as it allows us to rest some of the other lads who have been playing a lot of football recently, but we said we were going to come in with a really strong team which we did.

“I thought we were excellent going forward - Jordan’s been fantastic for us but when he doesn’t play, that allows that front line to be more interchangeable, wheres Jordan is a focal point for us. I thought that would suit this game and it did. The lads performed very well and everybody contributed which is good." 

A brace for both Josh Harrop and Alan Browne and an own goal set North End on their way into the next round, and Neil commented on the execution of the goals, labelling some of the goals as ‘sensational’

He added: “I thought the standard of some of the goals were sensational. Josh’s free kick is right into the top corner and the ‘keeper can do nothing about it. Alan Browne’s goal is a half volley on the edge of the box, and he’s hit it right in the far corner as well and I thought the final goal was a great team move.

"We worked it right from the back into the front, worked it wide and it was a great cross into the box and Josh Harrop’s managed to get on the end of it and score a great goal.

“All in all, we’re really pleased - the only real downside for us is that Calum Woods has hurt his hamstring which is devastating for him as he’s worked so hard to get fit, and to just keep him fit for a run of games is really difficult for him at the moment so that’s a real blow for him and we hope he can get back as soon as he can. 

“Browne’s goal is a great goal. He’s had the confidence to hit it on the volley and he’s got himself two goals which is what I’ve been telling to him - that he needs to add that to his game and the quality of that first finish is excellent.” 

Although Neil made eight changes to the side that lost to Middlesbrough in midweek, there were no signs of the side being any weaker, with the performance meriting how seriously he and his side are taking the FA Cup with a fourth round tie awaiting the Lilywhites at the end of the month.

“I, personally haven’t got a good record in the cups,” admitted Neil. “Certainly in the FA Cup so that was something that I wanted us to do, for myself as much as the team.

"This team got Arsenal last year which was a big draw for everybody at the club and we made some decent money from that as well and the lads want to test themselves against the best so we’re hoping to get a good draw and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Watch Alex's full interview on iFollow. 

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