Preston North End manager Alex was pleased with his side, after they were victorious in their final home game of the season, defeating Birmingham City 2-0 at Deepdale.
Goals late in either half from Patrick Bauer and Brad Potts gave the Lilywhites the three points, but results elsewhere meant their chase for a top six finish ended with one game to go.
However, reflecting on the performance, the gaffer was pleased with what he saw: “I thought we were the better side; I thought we controlled the game,” he told iFollow PNE.
“The major danger for them was always going to be set plays, but we defended them well in the main throughout the game and I thought we had other opportunities that probably should have put us further in the lead.
“That is always the danger at this level, that you don’t take them and we have been caught since we came back in a couple of games where if you don’t take those chances, then it is going to come back to bite you.”
Not for the first time since the resumption of the Championship, PNE were disappointed not to get what appeared a clear-cut penalty, when Josh Harrop was scythed down by Jude Bellingham in the first – but they were not punished this time.
“The Josh Harrop one, I wasn’t so sure when I was on the side, so it wasn’t one where I appealed too much, but when I have seen it back, it was a clear penalty.
“We have had a couple of scenarios since we have come back. The Scott Sinclair one sticks in my mind, at home, when we should have had a penalty against Cardiff in the first half that we didn’t get.
“But today, I thought we moved the ball well, I thought you could see, potentially, a release of pressure in certain instances as well and we moved the ball well and had some really good performances across the pitch.”
The opener came with a great set piece delivery from Paul Gallagher and even with a couple of second half opportunities, the manager felt the display was a positive one: “Gally has got a habit of when we need to break that deadlock, of finding that bit of quality for us,” he continued.
“His cross is terrific for Patrick to get the goal and he also puts on right on Jayden’s head just before half-time.
“Generally, when we break the deadlock, that allows us then to be very effective in what we try to do afterwards.
“Teams are always going to have opportunities, but in the main I thought we defended really well and were also a constant threat. We had some really good chances today, scored two goals, arguably could have scored more, so I thought it was an accomplished performance.”
The final goal, from Potts, was another well-worked strike and the North End boss was pleased for his No.44, who has been a positive since the return to playing.
“It was a good goal. Sean came on and was aggressive, as he normally is, gets into a good area, upsets the defender and Pottsy makes a good run from the middle of the park and it was a really good finish, on his weaker side.
“Brad has been a constant threat since he has come back. He has performed very well and so I am pleased for him.”
And despite the results for Cardiff and Swansea not being in their favour, the manager hopes the performance will give them some momentum to take into the summer.
“What it has done, even today, is that we have seen a lot of the lads who maybe didn’t play so much at the start of the season, feature quite regularly since we came back and this is a big learning curve for them in terms of getting them ready.
“Performances like today will do them no harm, because I thought they really stepped up today, so that was very pleasing,” he added.