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First Team News

“We Can Take A Lot Of Heart From Tonight” Says Alex Neil

2 October 2018

Manager Alex Neil believes his side can take more than the point that they earned at Villa Park tonight with North End coming from 2-0 down to claw their way back into the game.

Goals from Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher levelled matters for North End after Jonathan Kodjia and Tammy Abraham gave the hosts a 2-0 lead, and when Louis Moult made it 3-2, North End were well on their way to victory.

However, Yannick Bolasie equalised in added time to send the game at 3-3 before Chris Maxwell saved a penalty in the dying seconds of the match.

Speaking after the game, the manager was given the strenuous task of trying to summarise the events of the last 90 minutes.

“We didn’t play well first half,” said Alex in his post-match interview with iFollowPNE 

“Our passing was poor. We made a change at half-time and I thought DJ was fantastic second half and he did really well for us. 

“The second half, it was one way traffic and at 2-1, we continue to dominate the game, then Gally gets the equaliser and then we make another change and bring on Louis Moult. It’s a great delivery and Louis makes it 3-2 with 86 minutes on the clock. 

“We’re playing against ten men so we expect to see the game out but we then start to panic and that’s the best way to describe it. We’ve got some very inexperienced players and I think that showed but at 2-0 had you have offered me a draw then I would have certainly had taken it. 

“There was a whole range of emotions in that second half and too be honest, I’m drained at the moment. One minute you think you’ve won it and the next you think it’s a draw, and in the last minute you think you’ve lost it. 

“It was an incredible match, in particular the second half and there were some unbelievable performances from us in the second half but I think these are the basics of the game that you need to get right.”

Despite the mixed emotions, Alex refused to criticise any of his players on the basis of their second half performance, and felt that the character in the dressing room shone tonight having been able to put themselves back in contention from two goals down.

He added: “All credit to the lads, they’ve done the hard work to get themselves back in the game. We’ll take the point and move on to a really important game against Wigan on Saturday and hopefully tonight will set us up to try and get the three points going into the break.

“It’s difficult to critiicse any of my lads in the second half. There’s a lot to build on but we need to keep calm heads. We’ll take huge heart that we’ve came here 2-0 down and turned it into 3-2 which I’m not sure many teams in this league are capable of doing. 

“Recent performances have been good, but sometimes you just need to tough it out and do the scrappy jobs. The lads are disappointed but equally they’re really pleased with how they performed second half. 

"It’s a point on the board and we’d had taken that before we came here given recent form. We’’re disappointed we didn’t go on and win the game with the position we found ourselves in but we took a lot of heart from that performance and we’ll go again and work our socks off to replicate that second half again. It took character tonight because when you’re 2-0 down it’s easy to give up, and we never done that."

Watch the full interview on iFollow PNE now by clicking on the video above. 


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