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First Team News

Alex Neil Expects Keenly Contested Game

1 October 2020

First Team News

Alex Neil Expects Keenly Contested Game

1 October 2020

Manager Alex Neil is expecting a tough game on Sunday afternoon as PNE travel to Brentford Community Stadium for the first time.

Brentford, who lost in the Championship Play-Off final last year, moved from Griffin Park over the summer and have played just twice competitively at their new home.

Moving grounds always tends to bring a new challenge and an acclimatisation period, but it’s not something that PNE manager Neil is too familiar with.

“It’s not something I’ve done before,” Alex told iFollow PNE. “I think it’ll be a new experience for them but I think they obviously deem their new one to be an upgrade so when you’re going to an upgraded facility I’m sure that the club will be looking at that as a step in the right direction.

“I think the players will be looking at it as development moving forward so yeah we know it’s going to be a tough game.

“You can play Brentford anywhere and it would be a tough game because they’re a good side. They’ve got some very good players, they are well organised, they’ve got a certain way of how they play, so like every game we’ve had against them it’ll be keenly contested and I’m sure that we’re going to have to play well to get something from it.”

The Bees have lost two of their top scorers in the past few seasons with the departures of Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins, and the latter’s replacement Ivan Toney from Peterborough got off the mark last weekend from the penalty spot.

Alex said: “Obviously individuals do change dynamics in a team because their strengths and weaknesses might slightly vary, but in terms of the way they work, the way they try and get their teams playing, that doesn’t alter.

“What they do is recruit for how they play and I think that they’re hoping it’s a sort of like for like replacement. So I think the difficulty you’ve always got is players will never be exactly similar to each other – they’ll always have slight variances, they’ll always have slight things that they’re better at than maybe the previous lad or weaker at than the previous lad.

“When you’re investing big money like they’ve done, when you sell for big money it’s certainly progress for the club.

“I’m pretty sure they’d have liked it if they’d went up and retained their players instead but when you don’t go up then that’s a consequence that sometimes you need to refresh.”

PNE have had a free midweek in terms of competitive action for the first time since the Championship season began and, while they’ve used it to not only rest and prepare for the Brentford trip, some players also took part in a training game on Tuesday afternoon.

Alex continued: “The difficulty you’ve got when you fit the bounce game in, you then obviously lose the lads who have played in that game for a few days.

“But I think it’s important that we topped them up with minutes because once the international break comes the lads who are obviously not away on international duty will get a little bit of rest and then hopefully be able to kick on afterwards.

“The simple fact is with football, winning games changes the dynamic of everything. You win a game and everyone feels a bit better.

“Our performances as of yet have been pretty good, I’ve been quite happy. I think we’ve been unfortunate in certain instances, particularly the sending off on Saturday, but equally we want to go and add more points to the board and we’re going to a real difficult venue on Sunday but as we’ve shown in the past we’re more than capable of picking up points in those places.”

Hear more from Alex by clicking the video above.

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