Alex Neil highlighted what victory at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium meant for his players as their hard work paid off in a 2-0 victory against Queens Park Rangers.
North End’s two goals both came from the penalty spot, with Daniel Johnson and Scott Sinclair dispatching an effort apiece from 12 yards in the first and second halves respectively, as the away side deservedly took all three points in the capital.
Speaking to iFollow PNE after the game, the manager admitted his side needed a result and was therefore delighted that his players were rewarded as such for their display against Mark Warburton’s men.
“I think we needed a win, didn’t we?” the boss confessed. “The games that we’ve lost recently have been very tight and it’s easy when people are saying, ‘We haven’t won in X amount’ – we’ve won two out of three now.
“Football just changes when you win a game, the players are lifted, they’ve got good confidence and belief. We don’t lack belief, we don’t lack confidence, it’s just those margins where we need to get ourselves ahead.
“I thought the lads as a group, you could see how much it meant to them, I thought it was a really, really good performance, they worked ever so hard, and I don’t think QPR had a shot on goal tonight.
“We need more clean sheets, we know that, but I’m just delighted for everybody.”
“All over the piece, we stopped [Yoann] Barbet coming out with the ball because he’s got good quality, we worked off the other kid in terms of pressing him. I thought Alan went in and did that job really, really well, Ryan jumping in, DJ applying pressure – the whole thing was good.
“Declan was very aggressive, that’s something that Mike has been working on with him in terms of his starting position and I thought you could see that tonight. We know we needed to get three points on the board, we got them and the lads will be really looking forward to the game on the weekend and it was no more than we deserved really.”
The manager was also delighted with the performance of Emil Riis, making his first start for the club following his move earlier this month from Randers FC, and pointed out how his inclusion – along with several others gaining more minutes of late – has made for something of a transition period for the Lilywhites.
“I thought for his debut, Emil was terrific, I was delighted with his performance and he gave us everything I hoped he would, which is a good presence, he gave us legs, he gave us pace, could take it and look after it and was unfortunate not to score, I think he just didn’t expect it really.
“We’re actually in a bit of a transition now because we’ve got Jordan Storey coming in, Ryan playing more games, Pottsy coming in tonight, Emil has just joined us, Joe’s playing regularly at right back, so there’s quite a bit of transition there and sometimes I think that goes unnoticed.
“These lads now are getting more and more game time and there’s other lads waiting in the wings that are desperate to play. You always need a bit of time, we had a couple of players missing tonight, but I thought the guys who were on the pitch tonight were excellent.
“It’s difficult when you’re singling people out but I just thought it was a really, really good, strong away performance.”
North End remain unbeaten on the road this season and while immediate attentions will turn to another away trip to Huddersfield Town this weekend, Alex remains conscious of improving the Lilywhites’ fortunes at Deepdale, too.
“We need to get the balance right at home, I’m aware of that, I think we probably need to be a bit more creative than we have been, but that’s not easy.
“Teams, whatever you’re playing against, are really difficult in this division. The last three games, we’ve played Brentford away, QPR away and Cardiff at home.
“There are no easy games at this level and we’ve got to earn the right, we’re aware of that, and we need to work extremely hard to earn any points at this level. When we do that and we’re organised and the lads perform as they can, we’re capable.”
Watch more from the gaffer by clicking the video above.