North End manager Alex Neil admitted his side lacked that clinical quality in front of goal, and felt that was the key difference between the two sides.
David McGoldrick’s goal midway through the first half proved to be the winning strike for Sheffield United who were gunning for the automatic slots heading into the game.
The manager felt his side were much improved from last weekend’s defeat to Reading, but were still lacking a cutting edge in front of goal to Alex’s frustration when he spoke to iFollowPNE post-match.
“When you’re playing opponents that are going to be challenging for automatic promotion and we’re pushing for the Play-Offs, it’s always going to be a tough match,” said Alex after the game.
“We were aggressive in our line up because we wanted to get on top of them but I think the game is always going to be decided on opportunities and whether you can take them, and whether you can limit the mistakes.
“Unfortunately for us, we had four real good opportunities before we scored and we didn’t take any of them. In the middle of the pitch we lose the ball under no pressure, it then ends up as a corner, and we then get done with a lad peeling around the back which we’d already prepped for which is disappointing, and from then on, we’re having to chase the game. We just didn’t have that cutting edge that makes a difference in them type of matches.
“We had more possession than them and we tried to play in their half and it’s not easy to do that against them. We were really aggressive in terms of how we tried to play against them and it yielded us some really good chances. We didn’t do the crucial bits this afternoon in putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Alex spoke about a ‘changing mentality’ amongst his players as the manager looks to end his second season in charge on a high, and is confident his young side can do so with experience.
“We need to make sure in games like this we find ourselves on the right side of and that’s a mentality change as much as anything which is hard to do.
“They (Sheffield United) had the experience nouse who have done it for ten to 12 seasons but we had some younger lads who unfortunately made a couple of errors. If you look at Ben Davies, whose been playing at this level for two years, he was sensational again today.
“If you give Josh (Earl), Jordan (Storey), Ryan (Ledson), Lukas (Nmecha) and some of these other boys time, they’ll flourish in a similar way, but as a club we want that now and we want to get there as quickly as possible and I think that’s where the frustration comes in, but we’ll keep going and keep working and these young lads will get better.
“The result for them as it was for us was really important and you can see that at the end. It was difficult to get in behind them because they had a line of six players across the backline so we brought the bigger lads on to try and keep the ball up there and force them deeper and deeper to get closer to the goal.
“If I’m being honest the later the game went, the less of a threat we became. We had one or two opportunities but our set plays were poor. There was real disappointment and we’re gutted for the players because we played better today than we have for the last four matches.”
Watch Alex's full interview on iFollowPNE now.