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First Team News

Alex Praises Players’ Application

21 January 2020

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First Team News

Alex Praises Players’ Application

21 January 2020

Preston North End boss Alex Neil praised his players for carrying out their game plan to great effect by beating Barnsley 3-0 at Oakwell.

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The Lilywhites were convincing victors as Tom Barkhuizen scored a brace and Daniel Johnson netted another, setting out in an unfamiliar 4-4-2 diamond formation.

Speaking to iFollow PNE after the game, Alex explained that plenty of work had gone into that plan in the days leading up to the trip to Oawell, but that the players were deserving of credit for their display nonetheless.

“I think tactically it was good, but I think you’ve got to give the players huge amounts of credit as well, they’ve got to carry it out,” he said.

“We’re playing a system that’s unfamiliar, albeit we’ve done a lot of work the last two days on it. I thought it had a couple of teething problems the first five minutes, they get one slipped down the side and we didn’t really deal with that well, but I thought as soon as the game settled, we got the goal.

“I thought at that point, it clicked into gear and you could see it worked really well, we carried a real threat. Certainly, throughout the game, apart from the first five minutes, we were defensively really solid and I thought it was a really good solid away performance.”

Barkhuizen opened the scoring for the Lilywhites after 19 minutes and Alex felt his goal allowed his side to settle into the contest.

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“I think it was the first bit that we quickened our tempo up. I thought there was a couple of times we wanted to take a touch and try to get it under control and I think against these, you need to move it one and two touch, you can’t dwell on the ball.

“It was a really well-worked goal down that side. As soon as that went in, that settled us and from that point onwards, I thought we were very strong.

“Tom’s an influential player for us, he’s very intelligent in terms of you give him a job to do and he does it extremely well. I think when you’re playing teams like these when all the space is behind, that’s Tom’s bread and butter, that’s when he goes and really hurts teams.”

The Lilywhites have now taken seven points out of nine from their last three games and Alex is hoping his side can continue their good form going into a packed February schedule which includes seven matches in the Championship, with Swansea City at home next up.

“This is a crazy Championship. Three games ago, I think we were all a bit down on ourselves. We go to Blackburn, dig out a decent point, and then I think the last two games – obviously it didn’t start well against Charlton – but I thought after ten minutes we controlled the game and deserved to win, thoroughly deserved tonight.

“We’ve got a real important month in February, we’ve seven games in there and we need to try to put a good run together and if we can, that will take us into the last ten matches of the season and then it’s all up for grabs.

“I think the lads have got a couple of days and then we bring them in and then we maybe give them a day or so. We’ll have a full week next week where we can get all our preparation done for Swansea.

“I think we’ll probably have another couple of players back as well by that stage, so we should be going into that in good shape.”

Watch more from Alex by clicking on the video above.

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