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First Team News

Alex Neil Hails Players’ Tactical Display

12 February 2021

Alex Neil said his Preston North End side put in a ‘very good’ tactical display to help them overcome Blackburn Rovers with a 2-1 win at Ewood Park.

North End went 2-0 up with goals from Greg Cunningham and Liam Lindsay, and while Adam Armstrong pulled one back from the penalty spot, the all-green visitors remained solid at the back to see out a well-earned victory in the Lancashire derby.

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Blackburn Rovers vs Preston North End Match Report

12 February 2021

And speaking to iFollow PNE post-match, Alex felt that the victory was a deserved one for his side and explained that he had felt a shake-up necessary following defeat in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

“I thought we deserved it, I thought our shape was excellent in the first half,” Alex said. “We changed a few things up tonight. The last game against Blackburn caused us a lot of problems and I had to figure out a different way of dealing with it. I thought the lads carried it out great. First half, I thought we were by far the better team. I thought we had the better chances.

“The only frustrating thing is after we scored the second goal, to concede so early after that was disappointing. I think by all accounts from what I’ve been told – I haven’t seen it back – but I think it’s not a penalty which is disappointing, that’s a couple of times that’s happened to us this year. I thought we could have had a penalty in our box with Ched Evans.

“A couple of decisions didn’t really go our way, but second half, we had to dig in, we defend well, we had two really golden opportunities to finish the game off and didn’t take them. Then obviously you need to make sure you’re resilient, tough, and clear your box and make sure you do all the right things and we did that, so really pleased.

“Tactically from the players, it was a very good performance, and I thought that’s what got us the win really, as well as the moments of quality we did have to score.”

Both goals for the Lilywhites came from the backline – Cunningham hitting a stylish opener before Lindsay headed in a second before the break – as the boss spoke of his defenders’ contributions.

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“Greg technically is very good and that will be welcome in terms of getting back into the team for him, and equally, to get a goal, particularly the fact that he played here last year, I’m sure he’ll be really pleased.

“I thought the last game was difficult for Liam because he’s played once – being that game – in 12 months at this level. When you get thrown into it, it’s really tough.

“We’ve done a lot of talking during the week about our defensive set-up, a lot of talking about our structure in terms of how we’re going to do it, and I thought he carried it out perfectly. I was very pleased for him, I thought he did great tonight.”

The boss was spoilt for choice with regards to praising individuals – also being asked about the efforts of Jordan Storey and man-of-the-match winning Ched Evans.

But when asked for comment about the display of his midfield two of Ben Whiteman and Ryan Ledson, he did admit that deserved a ‘special mention’.

“I spoke to them during the week about those defensive pivot positions, in terms of sometimes having to lock on, but then also cover space when the ball goes past you. I thought they carried it out fantastically well.”

The overriding positive for Alex, though, was the contribution of his entire starting XI.

“I just thought as a team performance it was very good. I know at times, particularly second half, it wasn’t pretty, but I think what we’ve got to do, more so than we probably have done, is the nasty bits. For it all to come together tonight in terms of the basics of the game, that’s why we deserved our victory.”

Watch more from Alex by clicking the video above.

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