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Alex Neil: “We Showed Real Bravery And Bottle”

4 October 2020

Preston North End manager Alex Neil felt the amazing comeback win at Brentford was ‘a great achievement’ from his side.

Match Reports

Brentford vs Preston North End Match Report

4 October 2020

The Lilywhites put in a superb second half display to come from two goals down at half-time, with a brace from Scott Sinclair and goals from Brad Potts and Sean Maguire, winning 4-2 on their first visit to the Brentford Community Stadium.

Speaking to iFollow PNE after the Lilywhites first win at the home of the Bees since 2011, the gaffer said: “I thought we started the game well. Unusually, you normally come here and it is difficult to get the ball, but the game took a different shape to what I thought it would have.

“I thought we moved the ball really well; I thought we looked a threat, but I just thought we played with a little bit of a lack of belief in the final third areas and the disappointing thing is, they had two breakaway goals that we are culpable for.

“We gave the ball away cheaply; I don’t think we defended the transitions well enough and it was really disappointing.

“We were 2-0 down at half-time having played well in the game, so it was frustrating. It was a weird half-time, because you don’t want to be too hard, because we hadn’t played too badly, but we conceded two goals.

“We had a good chat about what we needed to try and do better and credit to the players, there wasn’t a lot that I fixed at half-time, it was a case of we needed to cut out silly mistakes and we needed to do the basics of the game a bit better, which means cover round, make sure you were on the cover, win your battles and I thought to a man second half, in terms of individual duals, we did that and it set a platform and gave us solid foundations to go on and win the match.

“To score four goals away from home anywhere, particularly here is a great achievement for us and I thought we definitely deserved to do that.”

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Ivan Toney had put the hosts 2-0 up at the break, with two breakaway goals from their only two clear-cut chances and the PNE boss felt his side showed ‘bottle’ to come back in the way they did.

“The difference at this level is being clinical and lot of people often talk about how you play, but the only thing anyone looks at is the result,” he continued.

“We want to play well and win, but if you give me the option of playing well and not winning, I would rather win the game than not. I thought we showed real bravery and bottle.

“At 2-0 down it is easy to give us the ghost and not really commit to the second half and we did the opposite.

“I thought the lads gave everything they had and they scored some good goals.

“I thought Scotty [Sinclair] was a real threat; I thought we found it hard to find him in the first half, but in the second half he was excellent; Sean [Maguire] got his goal, which was great and I just thought it was an all-round good performance.”

One of the indicators of the North End aggressiveness was the role of the two full backs in the win and the manager had praise, in particular for his Welsh left back: “I thought in terms of aggressiveness and going forward, that was the best that Andrew Hughes has done.

“I thought his aggression was great. You could tell right from the start; he got to the byline three times in the first 15 minutes, so there were some terrific performances.

“We have played pretty well so far this season and now we have four points on the board, a little bit of reward for our efforts and we have some good games coming up, so we really need to kick on from this point.

“Today was a great performance and the lads should enjoy it, because I am extremely proud of what they put on the pitch.”

And with the move to the Euxton training ground, the arrival of Emil Riis – who came of for a second half debut – and three points under their belt, Alex feels the international break has come at a good time.

“If you look at the games, Norwich I thought we were terrific and got a point, the Stoke game got changed because we went down to ten men and we were without Tom Barkhuizen and the likes of DJ and Fish at the moment, so to do what we did today was excellent.

“It was nice to get Emil some minutes as well, which is going to be important for him to find his feet, but I am delighted all-round.

“The break will allow us to get Tom back, DJ will be back as well and Fish won’t be too far behind and all of a sudden we begin to look in good shape.

“We have come off the back of a good win today and we are in decent form, in terms of how we have played.

“We are looking forward to the games coming up and we are moving to our new training ground, which is another bonus and we are starting to move in a forward direction,” he added.

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