Manager Alex Neil was bitterly disappointed for a number of reasons after North End were beaten by Wigan Athletic this afternoon.
The gaffer named an unchanged side from the team that beat Ipswich comprehensively just two days before. However, after going behind with 11 minutes on the clock, North End were dealt another blow when midfielder Ryan Ledson was given a straight red for a high challenge midway through the first half, and the manager couldn’t hide his frustration in his post-match interview.
“It’s happened too often this season” said Alex. “If we want to realistically challenge for the Play-Offs we’ve got to cut the red cards.
“Ben Pearson, and today Ryan Ledson, we’ve had too many red cards this season. I think that’s six times this season where we’ve had to set up with ten men. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing - if you go a man down you give yourself a mountain to climb.
“Having said that, the first goal was a mistake from us, it’s a hash clearance and it lands to them, other than that, they didn’t have anything other than that in the first half.”
As frustrated as he was with the first half showing, the gaffer conceded that his side were much better in the second period, but also felt his side didn’t get their fair share of decisions from the officials.
Alex added: “First half, it was frustrating to watch but second half, I can’t fault any of the lads; they took what I said to them at half-time on board and we got a good reaction from them and I can’t have any gripes about that.
“We showed real bravery in the second half and there was only going to be one team going to score and that was us. Sean Maguire goes down the side, Sam Morsy takes him out and how that is not a second booking I do not know. I spoke to the referee after the game and I very rarely comment on referees but I thought we didn’t get our fair share of decisions, and a lot of key decisions in the game didn’t go our way. There’s one in the second half where Ben Davies gets ragged to the ground and it’s play on – it’s a really frustrating day all round.
“We should stop the cross for the second goal, we don’t clear the ball well enough, Jordan sticks his leg at it and it fires into the roof of the net. My biggest emotion is frustration to be honest.”
So often this season, North End have had to deal with a number of men missing due to injury as they did today, yet Alex also acknowledged that his young side need to maintain the high performance levels they set week in, week out as the focus starts to turn towards next season after the final two games of the 2018/19 season.
He continued: “We have to be more clever when we go down to ten men, risk it in certain areas, at that stage we looked as if we could get something from the game, the next goal was always going to decide it, and some key decisions up until that goal went in didn’t go our way which should have.
“We’ve got some young players who need to maintain their levels week in, week out and I thought today, some of them didn’t do that. When you go down to ten men you need to be smart, injuries again have hampered us. We’ve tried to change it about after the sending off but there were things towards that really annoyed me, and I’m just really frustrated.”
Watch the manager's full post-match interview on iFollow PNE by clicking on the video above.