Alex Neil was pleased to see his side’s more pragmatic approach to Huddersfield Town’s visit to Deepdale pay off with a 3-1 win over Danny Cowley’s outfit.
With midfield pair Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson unavailable through injury and suspension respectively, the manager admitted an alternative game plan was in order for the Roses clash in PR1.
With Ryan Ledson and Alan Browne coming into central midfield, the gaffer praised his players again for taking on board the tactical plan to gain a positive result – adding that that has been a frequent part of their game this term.
“I thought it was a good performance, I thought we had to be a little bit more pragmatic in terms of going forwards – obviously missing [Ben Pearson] Pearo and [Daniel Johnson] DJ in the middle – and when we’ve got Jayden [Stockley] in the team as well, we need to utilise his qualities and I felt we did that very well,” the gaffer told iFollow PNE.
“We got the balance right between when we could drop out of play, we played a few passes to draw them out and then we put it forward and then got in behind their midfield.
“I always felt that getting the ball to wide areas and putting crosses in, which is not generally the way we play, but I certainly felt that was the way we were going to win the game today so we did a lot of work on that this week and it came to fruition on the pitch.
“The players took all the messages we’ve spoken about this season and transferred them unbelievably well onto the pitch and they deserve a huge amount of credit for that.
“I think that was a massive factor for us because that’s two of our middle three [Pearson and Johnson] that’s played nearly all the games so far this season. When you’re losing one player from an area, you can put another of the lads in and they will fill in no problem, but when you’re losing two players from the same area it always becomes more difficult because the dynamic of that middle of the park completely changes then.
“But I thought Ryan came in and Alan moving up and Gally dropping out, I thought they did it extremely well, certainly for the first 60 minutes of the game, I thought they were great really, so it worked.”
Paul Gallagher saw his free-kick rebound off the post and the loose ball put in by Jayden Stockley for the first goal, later scoring from the penalty spot for the third early in the second half, and Alex had high praise for the skipper for his man of the match display, as well as for his team-mate Stockley who opened the scoring.
“Gally is a quality, quality player and what he does is, he’s got the best trait in football you can ever have, which is he affects games regularly.
“His quality for the set play is great and Jayden is alive and sticks it in the net and I was really pleased for Jayden – he’s been very unselfish for us the last two games and performed extremely well and we needed him today – for his own sake and our sake – to get himself a goal.
“For that to happen was really, really pleasing and hopefully that will be the first of many.”
There’s now two weeks’ break for North End with the upcoming international break and the manager is optimistic he will have a great pool of players to choose from by the time the next game away to Derby County comes around later this month.
“I think we need a bit of rest and I think you could see that towards the end of the game. The lads put so much into every game that we do need to rest and recover and it’s thoroughly deserved; they’ve been great.
“Hopefully we’ll have a few back, we’ve got quite a few out at the moment – the likes of Harrop, Tom Clarke and Louis Moult and obviously Moulty is going to be a long-term one. Hughesy was missing again today as well.
“There’s quite a few players there that unfortunately didn’t make it, but I’m very hopeful that for the next batch of games, the majority of them should be there or thereabouts.”
Watch more from Alex now on iFollow PNE.