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First Team News

Alex Neil: “I Believe In These Players”

16 March 2019

Manager Alex Neil is in no doubt that his players are capable of keeping their fantastic run going after today’s last gasp winner.

Sean Maguire’s winner in the 94th minute raised the roof at Deepdale to make it three wins on the bounce, and the Lilywhites chief praised his side’s never say die attitude. 

“You never give in with these players” said the Lilywhites chief. “When we eventually got an opportunity to score I felt we could take our chance. There’s very few games this season where we haven’t scored in and I fully believe in these players. 

“I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t as many of our fans here today - but those that did turn up were very vocal, particularly towards the end and we’re glad that we’ve sent them home happy. Now we’ve got a bit of a break to regroup, get some players back fit and then see where we go.”

Alex conceded that it wasn’t a pretty affair this afternoon which was something that he was expecting going into the game. 

“We’ve been involved in two matches this week which have been tough for two different reasons” added Alex.

“The conditions today were difficult for both teams. We know Birmingham are really direct and they make it really scrappy. We looked at the teams who have caused them the most issues this year - Bolton and Millwall, so teams who have been more direct have had more success, so what we didn’t want to do was play into their hands. 

“We had Alan Browne and Paul Gallagher missing who have been key players for us over the course of the season, so we knew we needed to try and find another way of winning today and the players deserve great credit for that.

“It wasn’t pretty at times but I’ve got to come up with a strategy that gives us the best chance of winning the game and thankfully for us, we managed to get across the line.”

North End got across the line thanks to a well drilled defence, spearheaded by stand in skipper Ben Davies who the manager felt deserved the plaudits after his man of the match performance.  

“We dug in as a team but I do think it’s fair to single out Ben Davies today as he was sensational. He came up against Jutkiewicz who’s the number one in the league for aerial duels. 

“He won pretty much every header and was so composed on the ball when he needed to be as well. 

“He’s coming on leaps and bounds and he should be pleased with his performance today. Ben’s the type to thrive off given responsibility and as he develops as a player, he should become a leader and I’m hoping to bring that out of him.

“We’ll take this - we’re happy - I still think there’s room for improvement in the way we play especially when we get everybody back.

“The next eight games will determine our fate, we’ve won eight out of 12 games now, for any club at any level that’s remarkable so we should be delighted with that. Not only that, we’ve done it with missing a few players within that as well.

"I'm proud of the lads because they’re a great group and they deserve all of the plaudits that come their way.” 

Watch Alex's full interview on iFollowPNE now.


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