Alex Neil admitted North End’s defeat to Reading left a bitter aftertaste, as Matt Miazga scrambled home the only goal of the game deep into second half injury time to see the Royals record a 1-0 win.
Speaking to iFollow PNE after the game, the Lilywhites boss felt that his side were not worthy of defeat, but confessed that they hadn’t done enough to win the game either.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game but we certainly didn’t deserve to win the game,” he told the club’s media channel. “I thought it was a poor game and that the things we have been good at, we didn’t really do well.
“I didn’t think our use of the ball was good enough, we weren’t brave enough at certain times. It’s just one of those games I think where you come away from it having not played well, because to be honest I’m trying to think of one player that played to their levels, and I’m struggling to think of anybody.
“When that’s the case, you’re just hoping you get out with a point, put it to the back of your mind and get on with the next one, but unfortunately, we concede the goal which leaves a really bitter taste in the mouth.”
Chances proved to be at a premium for both sides, although one of the better ones in the game fell for David Nugent to head at goal early in the second half, ultimately being well saved by ‘keeper Rafael Cabral, and the gaffer said those moments can prove to be the difference in games such as this.
“That’s the difference in the game today,” he added, speaking of that opportunity. “This is one of these games where if you score and you win, nobody bats an eyelid and everybody goes home happy, but the fact is, we didn’t and we didn’t do enough.
“We’re going to have to be better in the next game. What I would say is this game is really hard to prepare for because we didn’t know how they were going to play, we didn’t know their personnel, and that certainly didn’t help us today – I thought that became a bit of an issue.”
Alex also felt the way hosts scored their winner was uncharacteristic of his team.
“The biggest problem you’ve got, towards the end of the game – I felt it towards the end of the game – it was an end-to-end game.
“People were switching off, not matching runs, not using the ball well enough, just kicking it the way they were facing at times and that was for both teams. You’re hoping that that one chance that might fall is going to fall to your team.
“We’ve got a free-kick with about 40 seconds to go on the clock and normally, we’re excellent in those types of scenario, whether it becomes an opportunity for us or not, but we don’t get countered on and we don’t concede many goals at that point.
“Today we didn’t do it well enough, we got countered on, didn’t get out to the ball quick enough and we then slide it down the side and get a corner off the back of it and I think the lad must shoot from about 40 yards, we don’t pick up the second ball and it ends up in the back of the net.”
Next up for the Lilywhites is the visit of Leeds United to Deepdale on Tuesday evening and the manager believes the whole collective group – himself, staff and players – must do better when that game comes around in just a few days’ time.
“We just didn’t do well enough, it’s as simple as that. I’ve said to the players that we’re all culpable – I’m culpable, the staff are culpable, the players are culpable – that today was a poor performance.
“We might have escaped with a point and then you go home and hopefully forget about it, but certainly after that late goal, that won’t be the case.”
Watch Alex’s post-match thoughts in full now on iFollow PNE.