Preston North End manager Alex Neil has been impressed by the style of Tuesday’s opponents Coventry City since their return to the Championship.
Mark Robins’ Sky Blues have put in some excellent performances and despite lodging at Birmingham City’s St Andrews for their home games, the PNE boss believes that have not suffered from being without a permanent home.
“They will be pleased with the start they have made,” he told iFollow PNE. “The one thing you want to do when you go into a new league is to try and stabilise yourself as much as anything else.
“I have watched quite a few of their games and they have been very competitive and it is going to be a tough match. When they first came up, they were naturally an expansive team, but they have recognised that when you come up the levels you can’t give teams that amount of space, or you can get damaged, albeit I still think they play a good brand of football and it is going to be a very testing game.
“They have got their balance more on their defensive side recently, in terms of keeping clean sheets, which gives them a platform to go and try and play.
“Because of the lack of fans, home advantage is out of the window for everybody and that has probably helped - the fact that they are playing at a neutral venue for the majority of their games; I don’t think that any team has that natural advantage over another, because of the situation we are in.”
His own team have picked up some good results at Deepdale of late too, with three wins and a draw in their last five games in PR1 and this is something the gaffer expected after a difficult start on their own turf.
“I was always confident it was going to turn around,” he continued. “There were games earlier in the season that we don’t deserve to lose and that we had opportunities to go on and win, but we didn’t do that, because we missed an opportunity or we made an error at a crucial time.
“It wasn’t anything I was overly concerned about, but the pleasing thing is we have won three of our last five at home and hopefully we can try and build on that.
“We are off the back of two good wins and two clean sheets, which is important.
“We would like to finish this year off with a good result and hopefully that will give us a good platform to build into the new year.”
A victory on Tuesday would give the Lilywhites their third three points in a row and will leave them starting 2021 looking upwards, something the manager is well aware of.
“Because the games are in close proximity, if you can go and put a good run together – nine points out of nine makes a massive difference at this level, if you think how congested the league is – a good week can catapult you up the league.
“We have been in good form recently and we want to continue that.
“The Luton game, to dwell on that would have been unfair on the players, because that was a blip – there have been very few games where we have performed as poorly as that – and the only wat to respond was to go and try and win the next ones, to play better and we have done that, which was really important,” he added.
You can watch the full match live on iFollow PNE on Tuesday night, with coverage beginning just after 7.15pm, with commentary from Jonathan Breeze and Graham Alexander. Match passes are now available for just £10 – click here now to sign up for yours.