Manager Alex Neil was looking at tonight’s game as a platform for North End to show their quality against top of the table, and that’s exactly what he got as his side stretched their unbeaten run to six games.
The manager was quoted in his pre-match thoughts that this evening’s game would be a ‘stern test’ for his side who were looking to continue their rich vein of form, and the manner in which his side made it back to back wins tonight was particularly pleasing for the Scotsman.
“I think you need to be attacking the game with the best attentions and that’s what we do” evaluated the manager after the post-match whistle.
“We didn’t want to sit behind the ball against top of the league and let them have it and try and nick something.
"We went toe to toe against them - ‘if you’re a good team let’s see how good you are’ and that’s brave because it can come back and smack you in the face which has happened on a couple of occasions. I’d rather gamble and back my players rather than be defensive.”
North End showed their attacking threat as early as the second minute when Ben Davies headed home Paul Gallagher’s free kick, and the manager was delighted for a number of individuals including Davies himself.
“It was nice for Ben to get his goal” continued Alex. “He’s been a real key performer for us and I thought tonight him and Jordan kept one of the best strikers in the league quiet which is fantastic from two young lads.
“Declan Rudd has done well tonight and has been excellent in these run of games and you can see that he’s happy with his own performance and we’re happy with him.”
Rudd would have been particularly happy with his penalty save midway through the first half, and Alex felt the save was a key moment in the game.
He added: “The penalty was a big factor in the match and if Dec doesn’t save that they get right back in it. The fact that he saves it gives us a big plus going into half-time.
“The most pleasing thing is having watched Norwich - we forced them to change their shape at half-time which allowed me to fix how we were going to play against it. The only disappointing thing is we concede a goal at the end. When you’re playing top of the league, you know they’re going to go for it.
“It was a great win” added Alex. “We’re playing the team at the top of the table before the match and I think our credentials were always going to be tested.
“We’ve beat the likes of Bolton which is good but we really needed to showcase what we can do against a team like Norwich tonight. We created numerous chances and deservedly took a two goal lead.”