Alex Neil was happy with the defensive work his Preston North End side put in as they battled to earn a point away at Ipswich Town.
The Lilywhites had to battle for their share of the spoils after Freddie Sears’ first half penalty had put the hosts ahead, but even after Paul Gallagher had equalised with a free-kick and then replaced Chris Maxwell in goal, the PNE ‘keeper having been sent off, Ipswich hit the target only once more.
Although the gaffer felt there was something lacking from his team’s first half display, he was impressed by the showing from his back four throughout and the reaction of the entire team after the break to take a point from the game.
“We’ve spoke about our defence all season in terms of it not particularly being our strong point, but I thought it was today,” Alex told iFollow PNE.
“I thought my back four excellent and second half I thought the lads were excellent, we created some really good chances and certainly with the free kick, which I felt we should have scored – Callum put a fantastic ball in – Tom Clarke just gets it at the back stick.
“Lukas’ [Nmecha] chance towards the end could’ve been a fantastic three points for us but he’s just dwelled on it, I think he’s that eager to get his first goal that he wanted be too precise and when you do that, sometimes the opportunity escapes you.
“I can’t fault the lads for effort, second half in particular, we showed a real good reaction. I think that’s six games unbeaten, but this was a game, even with ten men, I really think we could’ve won.”
Paul Gallagher stole the show for PNE to an extent, scoring the equaliser and then making a vital save after he replaced Maxwell between the sticks having stepped off the bench, but the gaffer was impressed by all three substitutes’ contribution, along with the display of his back four late on.
“We were a much better team, certainly second half,” he continued. “Gally I could tell half fancied it [going in net] and Louis [Moult] didn’t want to go in, but Louis is experienced and diligent enough to go in the middle of the pitch and do that shift for us and he did that which was great. Gally made that save and that helped us on our way.
“He [Gallagher] impacts so many games for us, he’s been really unfortunate that he’s not playing a bit more but I think DJ’s come into a good bit of form. It’s a really tough one in terms of who gets the shot and all Gally can do is come on and impact the match and he, Louis Moult and Lukas all impacted it in different ways.
“Ben Pearson really stepped up when we went down to ten, he was fantastic and the whole back four were great. Tom Clarke, with the headers he won, was incredible and I thought Hunts [Paul Huntington] and Ben [Davies] looked like the partnership they had last year.
“I don’t think Ipswich had a shot apart from that one, so it shows how well we did defend. I think the one area that was lacking a little was that cutting edge we have had this year and we certainly need to add that to our game.”
Watch Alex’s full post-match interview with iFollow PNE by clicking on the video above later tonight.