Although manager Alex Neil felt there were moments where his side worked the ball well in the final third this afternoon, it was that decisive final ball to create the chance that the gaffer was most disappointed about this afternoon.
Ahead of the game, Neil made eight changes from last weekend’s game, but the side was anything but weakened with Darnell Fisher coming back into the fold after injury, whilst there was also a first PNE start for Louis Moult.
Josh Earl also started the match as he returned in his comeback from injury whilst January signing Billy Bodin also came back into the fold.
“I didn’t think there was anything in the game and the stats suggest that,” assessed Neil after the final whistle.
“We had a late opportunity where Louis Moult knocks it back across and Jordan Hugill gets on the end of it and the ‘keeper makes a comfortable save. I thought it was a hard fought match, not a lot of goalmouth action for either team and we’re disappointed to have come away not to have won the game.
“The disappointing thing from our point of view is that we worked the ball in the final third areas really well at times but that final pass, shot or cross wasn’t of the quality that allowed us to attack the goal and that is the frustrating thing and that’s something we need to improve on.
“I thought Billy got himself into some particularly good areas in the first half, it was just that bit of precision that was lacking but we know we have work to do.
“When you’re a good player, you see that run and that pass and that was lacking for us today, but there was some good performances as well.”
The goal itself came from the spot just ten minutes from time with Billy Sharp converting after he was deemed to have been fouled by Tom Clarke inside the box, and the gaffer had his say on the incident.
“I think it was a contentious penalty,” he continued.
“In fact, I’m not sure it is a penalty. I’ve watched it back and I’m not convinced so we feel a little hard done by but the most disappointing thing in that phase of play is the free kick they gave from Jordan Hugill which I don’t think is a free kick either that leads to the penalty and that’s disappointing.
“It’s not a nice one to lose because there was nothing in the match but we’ve got a big important game on Tuesday so we’re not going to dwell on it and we need to make sure we’re focused on that.
“We’ve got a crucial run in coming up and we need to get those lads who have been missing with injury ready because they’re going to have to perform at their maximum if we’re going to get into the Play-Offs.”
Watch Alex Neil’s full interview on iFollow soon.