Manager Alex Neil was delighted with the level of performance from his side after their entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United.
The Lilywhites bounced back twice, with Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic grabbing a brace for the Hammers and Tom Clarke and Billy Bodin on the scoresheet for the home side.
And after the game, the gaffer had enjoyed watching what his team had to offer: “I thought it was really entertaining – I enjoyed the game,” he told iFollow PNE. “There were certain aspects where we were a little bit rusty on and we need to improve, but all in all I thought it was a great exercise for both teams.
“Over the piece I was really pleased with our lads; I thought we created good opportunities.
“I thought in the second half we controlled the game more, in and out of possession; we scored some great goals – the second in particular was an absolutely cracking goal – and we had a goal disallowed that was onside, so we can only be pleased with that performance.”
His hand was forced when it came to a couple of changes, but with a mixed up XI and another expected against Burnley on Monday, the side out against the East London side did themselves no harm in the manager’s thoughts.
“I think one of the most pleasing things about today is that Sean didn’t start the game, Ben went off injured, Paul Huntington, Callum Robinson and Daniel Johnson weren’t playing – so a lot of guys didn’t play who regularly featured in the team last year and I don’t think we necessarily missed anybody today.
“That is the strength of our squad and that was what we wanted to do in the summer – make sure that when we came back that if people came into the side, then we weren’t weakening the team and I thought that everybody who entered the field today more than did their job, so that was really pleasing.”
The memorable moment of the afternoon came with the final goal of the game, a stunner fromBodin, after Andrew Hughes’ superb diagonal, and the manager heaped praise on the Welshman after the match.
“If you look at Billy’s goal, he has plucked it out of the sky over his shoulder, shifted it onto one foot, miss-footed the defender, shifted it onto his weaker foot and then buried it into the bottom corner, so it was real quality.
“The only disappointing thing for Billy is that he is not available for the first game! But he has certainly done himself no harm and that is the type of goals I saw him score regularly when he was at Bristol Rovers.
“Those are the things we have talked to him about to look to try and improve that for us this year,” he added.
You can see much more from the manager by clicking on the video at the top of the page.