Preston North End manager Alex Neil took no rest after the weekend’s trip to Derby County, spending his Sunday on Teesside watching Wednesday’s opponents Hull City in action at Middlesbrough.
The gaffer sat down to preview the trip to the KCOM Stadium with iFollow PNE and began by reflecting on the defeat at Pride Park, one that saw a controversial equaliser ruled out in the second half.
“In the second half we definitely played better,” said Alex. “In the first half was very unlike us. We looked very flat; we didn’t compete well enough and we just didn’t play anywhere near our level – and fair play to Derby, they did play well and it was a difficult half for us.
“It is not as if we had a terrible 90 minutes. We had a bad first half and then the lads reacted second half.
“We were unfortunate in the goal that Tommy B [Barkhuizen] did score, because having watched is a few times it is inconclusive whether he is offside or not and on our day it did not go in our favour and we need to pick up for the next one.”
That next one sees a trip east across the Pennines and the PNE boss saw plenty to ponder in the Tigers’ encounter with Jonathan Woodgate’s men.
“I thought Middlesbrough were excellent until they had a man sent off and then, to be fair to Hull, I thought they really grew into the game and looked really dangerous,” he continued.
“They made a couple of changes in personnel and tactically, which I felt really helped them in the game and Bowen did what he has done for the majority of the season – popped up with a great goal – and that really changed the flow of the match. Once they scored that first goal, you could see the second goal coming.
“I know Grant [McCann] quite well. He came in over the summer and people had given Nigel [Adkins] a lot of plaudits over dealing with difficult situations last year on a low budget and I think Grant will have been dealing with an even lower budget than that, so he has done very well.
“I think the two wide players are a real threat and they have beaten some very good teams this season, so they will be a real threat.
“In transition they are one of the best teams in the league. They have a good shape and they have some good ball players in the middle of the pitch, so it is going to be a tough game, but every game in this league is tough; you don’t get any easy matches.”
And with this the final game on the month for PNE and the next a big home game with league leaders West Bromwich Albion, the side want to quickly get back on the horse at Hull.
“The mood was really good going into the international break and then we had the disappointment against Derby.
“I think it would be good for everyone if we could go here [to the KCOM Stadium] and get a good result and then that really would set up that game,” he added.