Manager Alex Neil said it was important for his team to get back on track as goals from Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne helped the Lilywhites to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Hull City at Deepdale.
After last week’s home defeat to Millwall, North End trailed at the break to the Tigers this afternoon, but Browne and Jayden Stockley made an influential impact from the bench to turn the tide of the game back in the home side’s favour.
However, speaking to iFollow PNE after the game, the manager felt his side might even have gone ahead earlier in the contest with decent chances falling to Sean Maguire and Alan Browne in the first half.
“It’s easy to say that because of the result [a tale of two halves] and I think that’s the first things that the fans will look at,” he said. “Having said that, we had two great chances in the first half.
“Seani has a header just past the post and Tommy B’s is probably an even better chance. Even if he doesn’t score the first one, I thought the second one would drop to him, we probably should have put that in.
“The disappointment for us is the goal we concede, it was a ball into the box, we sort of come out but leave too many gaps and they get their goal and that’s disappointing. The one thing I will say, having looked at the size of their team prior to the match, I knew set plays were going to be an issue for us.
“We put Darnell [Fisher] in to be more aggressive in terms of getting up and down, probably more so than Tom would be if he was playing right back, but it takes size away from us and we take Alan out of the team as well and Nugent out of the team, we become a little bit smaller.
“It’s trying to strike that happy medium between having the players I want to play that certain style but equally being strong from set plays. Today when I’ve seen their team, they basically put all their bigger players in the team, so even if we added one or two, we’d have still been probably a bit short in those terms.
“First half, the discussion we had was about not being brave enough and not forcing the issue enough, I thought when we did play we caused them problems.
“I’d like to see them break out and get the ball out quicker, earlier and move it quicker, and I thought we did that second half. We earned the right to get ourselves back in the game and with our second half performance we went on and deserved to win.”
North End had the lion’s share of possession in Hull’s half after the break and made the breakthrough from the spot through Paul Gallagher, after Darnell Fisher was felled in the box, just moments after another penalty shout on Browne.
“I thought the first one was a stone waller; I’ve looked back, we don’t get it. If I’m being honest, and I never comment on referees, I didn’t think we got our fair shares of decisions – there were some strange decisions within the game and I let the referee know that. That can happen in any game.
“The first one was a penalty, the second one was soft but we got to the right decision in the end.
“That’s what Gally does, you put him in that spot and he’ll put the ball in the back of the net. That kicked us off. I said to the players at half-time that the next goal would change the game, whether it’s for them or whether it’s for us, as soon as we got it, I would confident we could hopefully go on and try to win.”
The manager was pleased to see Browne and Stockley come off the bench and combine for the decisive goal in the game.
“The players coming on the pitch need to then take responsibility for their performance as they come on and obviously I take my responsibility for having put them on. Alan would’ve been disappointed he didn’t start and he answered it in the right way, which is go on, do your utmost to make sure you try to affect the game.
“What Alan did today is what Alan is great at, running in behind, getting up to that second ball, getting in the box and getting his goals. I thought that that goal today from Jayden and Alan was vintage Alan Browne that I’ve seen for the best part of me being here.
“He’s a fantastic finisher, Alan. For me, he’s not one who drops out and links, hits diagonals and all the rest of it, but if you want somebody to hit the box and get you goals, those players are worth their weight in gold.
“What I’m trying to say to Alan is not to change his game, keep doing what you’re doing and that’s what got you where you are and that’s what will take you even further. I was delighted for him today, as I was for the rest of the team, because it was a big game today.
“Having lost against Millwall, we really needed to get back on track and we did that, so we’ve got a big couple of games coming up this week.”
Watch more from the manager now on iFollow PNE.