Alex Neil felt his side had their moments and moved the ball well against Sheffield Wednesday, but added that they did not create enough in the final third in the 1-0 loss at Hillsborough.
Liam Palmer’s close-range strike in the final minute of the first half was enough to separate the sides and give the hosts all three points, despite the Lilywhites’ second half pressure.
And speaking to iFollow PNE post-match, Alex said that opening goal was his greatest source of disappointment when reflecting on proceedings at Hillsborough.
“My biggest disappointment is the goal we do concede,” he said. “It’s a long throw, we spent time talking about it beforehand, we got ourselves prepped for it, and it’s a bit cheap giving the throw away initially, we give it away cheaply through losing the ball when we probably should have retained it better, but that happens.
“The next bit’s the most disappointing thing; we lose the header, we lose the runner, and then we concede the goal. At this level, that’s extremely poor for me. The lads will be disappointed with it and we should be disappointed with it.”
The manager felt that North End were generally good in possession in South Yorkshire, but didn’t do enough to make that count in the final third.
“I think where we probably came up short today, we didn’t create enough, at the top end of the pitch we didn’t really do enough.
“I think we have a couple of chances. I think that Ben [Whiteman] has a chance, it gets cut back and puts it over the bar, Scott has one with a header. We sort of huffed and puffed a little bit, but I think the difficulty you’ve got when you give the goal away at that period in time, it gives them something to hang on to. That’s what they did, they hung onto it in the second half, we found it really difficult to break them down.
“We controlled the ball and moved the ball well – it wasn’t a good performance, but it certainly wasn’t a performance where you looked and thought we struggled and they were better, I didn’t think that was the case at all. Apart from the goal, there really wasn’t a lot in the game. We just lacked a bit of quality at times in terms of putting good quality crosses in, getting across the front of somebody.”
Alex added that there weren’t enough moments of quality from his side in attack.
“The difficulty you’ve got, I think what you do is, I thought our set-up allowed us to dominate the ball, I thought we were the team that was dominant within the game. At the end of the day, once we get the guys into those positions, it’s then up to them to go and do that little bit of quality and that’s why they’re in the team. But we lacked that today.
“We didn’t produce those moments that give you the chance of winning games. Whether it was a through ball or whether it was a quality touch or a shot at goal, we just didn’t have that side of the game down well enough today.”
The outing at Hillsborough saw the return of Billy Bodin after an injury-enforced absence had kept him out since September, and Alex is hoping to build the Welshman’s match fitness over the coming weeks.
“I probably chucked him in at the deep end a little bit. He’s only done a week’s training, Bill, but he has got that technical quality that we’ve probably lacked at times. He hasn’t played a lot, he hasn’t done a lot, he’s missed a huge amount of football. Hopefully we can get him up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Watch more from Alex by clicking on the video above.