North End boss Alex Neil admits he’s ready to roll the dice between now and the end of the season in a bid for a top six finish.
The manager made three attacking substitutions this afternoon with the game finely in the balance at 1-1 following Famara Diedhiou’s equaliser on 69 minutes.
Rather than settling for one, the manager opted to risk the point in an attempt for all three as North End look to close the gap on today’s sixth placed opponents which currently stands at six points.
He said: “Our good record against Bristol City since I’ve been here has been because we’ve dominated the midfield against them so that was going to be a key battleground today.
“I knew when I made the changes, particularly when I put Jayden Stockley on at the end it was going to be a move which was going to give us a chance to win the game - but also potentially a move that could have lost us the game but we’ve got to take those risks - you don’t get anything if you don’t take risks so we went for it, had the one chance and if we’d had put it away it would have been a great decision but we didn’t.”
Despite North End’s record against today’s opponents, Alex was always anticipating a close knit affair and knew key decisions were going to make the difference; but one decision which went against them came during Bristol City’s equaliser with replays showing Diedhiou’s effort was offside.
“It was a closely contested match” analysed Alex. “I thought that there wasn’t a lot between the teams. We probably shaded it in terms of opportunities but it was always going to be a tough game.
“We’ve got a good strong record against Bristol City previously but I think every time you play a team like that it’s always dangerous as they’re determined to put things right. Our first goal is worked really well and it’s a good finish.
“The disappointment we’ve got with their goal is it’s offside. I didn’t realise it was at the time but when you look at it back when the lad heads it down - Diedhiou is offside which is frustrating as it’s a key decision and if that gets called rightly, then it changes the game and we’re still in the lead.
"It doesn’t happen often as I don’t think we’ve been particularly hard done by this season but it was a crucial game and it was always going to be closely contested, particularly because Ben Pearson’s not playing today.
"I thought the lads worked their socks off and you could see that at the end when we went two up top and had some great opportunities at the end. It’s a tinge of disappointment that we didn’t win it, but it’s nine games unbeaten and we’ve played a team in the top six and we’ve shown we’re more than a match.”
Alex spoke to iFollowPNE with mixed emotions this afternoon as although the manager was disappointed all three points weren’t taken today, a point stills keeps them within distance of the Play-Offs going into next week’s Lancashire Derby.
Alex added: “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win. I thought we shaded it but we certainly weren’t miles ahead of Bristol City today at all.
“We’re right in the hunt for the Play-Offs. I know it’s six points but we’re nine unbeaten and if we can continue that type of run between now and the end of the season who knows. One thing that’s guaranteed is that teams above us are going to drop points - it’s a matter of whether they can handle that pressure so it’s hopefully going to be a big end to the season and no better game to kick off a string of wins going in to the Blackburn game.
“In the local rivalries since I’ve been here, we’ve always done well so we’re really hopeful we can put on a good performance and win the match.”
Watch Alex's full interview after today's game on iFollowPNE now.