The pressure was on - on more than one occasion for Alex Neil’s side this afternoon with the scenarios continually changing, and the boss praised the application of his players in front of just over 17,000 spectators for the final game of the season.
Having to deal with the pressure was one thing, but having to contend with the blistering heat was another issue, and the manager praised the fact that his side did their job today despite the circumstances.
He said: “It was one of them games where we probably didn’t do it in the fashion we’d have hoped or expected, but the simple fact is - is that we’ve got the job done - if you look at some of the other results, it just shows you how difficult, when the pressure’s on to go and perform, particularly in this heat so we deserve a lot of credit for that.
“We were down to ten men and still managed to win the game; we’ve done everything we can but ultimately we haven’t done enough to get ourselves in there.”
Dealing with their own games has been reiterated time and again during the closing stages of the season, and having got the job done, the result was bitter sweet for the gaffer for more than one reason with the result also condemning Burton Albion to relegation.
“When we scored our second, I told my staff to sit themselves down because it’s disrespectful otherwise," added the Scotsman. "It’s a difficult situation to be in - being relegated because there’s jobs at stake there and we take no pride whatsoever in that happening. We just wanted to win the game for our team.
“It’s bitter sweet for us - we managed to win the game, but we haven’t managed to get in there, but unfortunately we haven’t took enough chances and scored enough goals over the course of the season and we didn’t accumulate enough points to get ourselves in there, but I think this is certainly the most proudest I’ve been of any team i’ve worked with.
"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season working with these players. I’ve been really proud and humbled of taking this team on to the next level and I think there’s so much more to come from us leading on to next year hopefully.”
North End had plenty of chances to be out of sight, especially in the second half, but when Billy Bodin was sent off for a second bookable offence and with Burton scoring just after the hour mark, North End could have ended their season differently.
The manager continued: “The game epitomised what we’ve done all season, when you consider the opportunities we’ve had and that’s certainly something we need to work on if we want to progress in the top six next season - but it doesn’t improve overnight, what we are doing is getting into positions, but now it’s just picking them right passes and selections and being more clinical and if we do that, we’ve got a great chance of pushing ourselves on.
T"o end the season with a win is great for us. We shown our appreciation to the fans who have been first class as well, especially the vocal ones in the top corner, and the fans away from home have been first class as well so for us to improve as a club, we need to pull together, fan base, management, players, everything we do with the club need to be as one to push us on to the next level and we’ve took massive strides to doing that.”
Watch Alex's full interview on iFollowPNE now.