Alex Neil was frustrated with how his Preston North End side conceded the first goal against Millwall on Wednesday night as the Lions claimed a 2-0 win at Deepdale.
A tight contest saw the visitors take the three points in PR1 thanks to Kenneth Zohore’s second half strike, which was followed by a contentious late penalty converted by Jed Wallace.
Alex told iFollow PNE post-match of how he was disappointed with the build-up that led to Zohore’s effort as his side focus on rectifying their home form.
“First things first, if you’re going to win any match, you need probably seven, eight, nine players to play well, I didn’t think we played well enough tonight,” he said. “My biggest frustration and disappointment is the first goal, we’re in a good position, we’re four v two at the back, we make a bad decision, we try to gamble wrong side defensively, which is a really poor decision.
“They then sort of get turned, get running at us, and in the first half, we coped with that probably five or six times, like they did as well when we got turned and ran at them. We then choose to step out as the centre back and let the ball get slid down the side of us and it cost us the first goal.
“At that stage, to be honest, there was no real goalmouth action in the game at that point for both teams, it was an absolute stalemate, they didn’t come out of their shape at all, transition was something we knew we needed to guard against.
“The Cardiff game, we lost it in transition, Swansea game, boom, we lost it in transition and tonight. It’s just bad decisions, particularly tonight.
“That’s a sore one for us because we recognise that our home form hasn’t been good so we’re extremely disappointed tonight, especially at the fact that I think we played a big part in the first goal rather than them producing moments of quality.
“The first goal as far as we’re concerned is the game changer because after that, we really need to force it, you’re going to leave spaces and you’re going to be vulnerable in transition.
“We do get our one chance, DJ plays an unbelievable pass to Tommy B and the ball just runs away from him, whereas if he can take a better touch and contain it, he’s got a good chance to then maybe get us back into the game. It wasn’t enough.”
The manager also revealed that several players had been affected by illness in the build-up to the Lions’ visit to Deepdale.
“We’ve had a few illnesses over the last couple of days, I think it’s appropriate to say that because probably five or six of the lads tonight put themselves on their line that yesterday weren’t particularly feeling well.
“Even Patrick, we’ve had to take him off because he was vomiting at half-time, he was one of them. But I’ve got four or five lads who have dug in and tried to see the game out. I think it’s always difficult. You could maybe see we had some lack of energy.
“The first sub kills me as well because it takes another forward player that I would have wanted to put on. Another frustrating one was Josh Harrop was already ready to go on the pitch and they score the goal right before he goes on. It just wasn’t a good night all round for us, there were a lot of things that didn’t go in our favour.
“I put the onus on my players in terms of letting me know how they feel. I said to them yesterday, ‘I don’t need any heroes, if you’re not feeling well, you’re not ready, let me know, I’ve got other lads that would like to play.’ Each and every one of them came back to me and said, ‘Listen, I’m OK to play.’ I think sometimes maybe that endeavour of wanting to play and the actual reality of playing maybe is a little bit different on occasions.”
Alex felt his side were unfortunate to concede the penalty that Wallace dispatched with just over five minutes left on the clock, and had felt a goalless draw would have been a more appropriate scoreline for his side to quickly move on from.
“I think Tom Barkhuizen [for the penalty] tries to get himself back in, the lad pulls his leg back, but he hits Tom I don’t know how far away and then sort of falls over and he gives the penalty. It’s disappointing, the first goal was always going to change this game, I think that the worst that it should have been for us was a 0-0 and let’s move onto the next one, let’s get over our illnesses and get ready for the next game.
“I thought you could see I had quite a lot of fatigue tonight for a lot of players. We’ve done that well and I just thought, again, ‘Can we go and do it again?’”
Watch more from Alex on iFollow PNE.