Alex Neil praised his side’s defensive work as Preston North End made it back-to-back away wins with an impressive 2-0 win against Stoke City.
Alan Browne’s tenth goal of the season gave North End a 20th-minute lead, Brad Potts making sure of the victory nine minutes from time as he scored his second goal in three matches since joining the club earlier this month.
But the green-clad Lilywhites had to stay tight at the back with Nathan Jones’ side applying the pressure at various stages of the contest, the gaffer pleased to see the defensive preparation done during the week pay dividends up against the Potters’ 3-5-2 formation.
“I thought we were excellent,” Alex told the club’s media channel post-match.
“For 35 minutes we were in total control of game and moved the ball great, there were probably just a couple of slack passes at that stage and the game became a little bit frantic then.
“Then there was a little incident in terms of the ball came out, they threw it back in for a throw in rather than giving us a goal kick and some of the players seemed to get a little bit upset about.
"It caused a bit of running about chasing things which we shouldn’t have, because at that stage we were in control of the game.
“They made a change right before half-time, so obviously going into the second half, we’ve been working on that type of shape [3-5-2] most of the week anyway so the boys know how to combat it and the boys carried that out really well. We breakaway and get the second goal which we deserved, so I was delighted with the performance; I thought we were excellent.
“They’ve [Stoke] just beaten top of the league [Leeds United] last game. What you’re going to have to do at times is defend well and see out those periods and I thought we did that apart from the penalty. Defensively as a unit we were excellent, individually we were excellent and then when we got the ball, I thought some our quality was great.
“All in all, I thought the performance was certainly one of the best of the season.”
The gaffer felt a number of players were worthy of credit for their roles in both PNE goals.
“Darnell [Fisher] did great [for PNE’s first goal] and that’s Alan [Browne] on ten goals now for the season now which is incredible, considering we’re only at the end of January.
“He’s been first class for us and I feel the new lads coming in and also the lads coming back – Ben Davies, Ben Pearson, Sean Maguire – really do make a big difference to us and I think you can see that in the last two performances.
“If you look at the likes weve got in the middle, Pearo can move and then weve got Alan, we’ve got Brad Potts, Tommy Barkhuizen, Seani [Maguire] who can all move. It was a great combination and the [second] goal really topped the game off for us because at that stage, I felt we deserved a second goal and that finished the contest really.”
Alex was also impressed with North End’s vocal travelling contingent, more than 2,000 PNE supporters inside the Bet365 Stadium for the first away trip to Stoke in over a decade.
“To be honest, I was really surprised how many came down. Although we do travel well in our numbers, we’re very vocal and I think to be fair, they appreciated the performance from the lads, they were great and they responded likewise and were very vocal and gave them all their backing.”