Preston North End manager Alex Neil felt his side’s slow start cost them in the clash with Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
The Lilywhites went behind to an eighth minute set piece, through Famara Diedhou’s header in the penalty area and despite having a large dominant spell in the game, saw the chance to take something from the match taken away by a lucky sliced effort from Zak Vyner 13 minutes from the end.
The gaffer spoke to iFollow PNE and felt a lack of quality in the final third was what cost his team, as well as the difficult first 20 minutes.
“I am disappointed with how we started,” he said. “We came here probably expecting we would have time, pop the ball about and it be a nice pretty game and Bristol were aggressive, they turned the ball, made it difficult and we didn’t start for 20 minutes and that’s where we lost the game.
“It is really disappointing [the first goal] was a set play. For all they were better in the first 20 minutes, they didn’t really create any other chances other than the set play where they got the goal and that is frustrating, because we should be able to clear that. It is not a difficult ball, it is right in the middle of the goal and they get the goal.
“From 20 minutes onwards we were much better; we were much more competitive and it was an even game up to half-time and then we had a 30-minute spell in the second half where we were totally dominant in the match.
“We controlled the territory, controlled the ball, had all the ball in the final third, but we didn’t do enough. The two wide players weren’t really in the game. DJ, who is normally the guy that finds that little pass, wasn’t in the game as much and our best chance comes from a set play. Then right before we were about to make our second change, or group of changes, they score a fortunate goal.
“It is a poor header from us, we knock it into the middle of the goal and their lad miss kicks it into the far corner, which killed the game at that point.
“We lost the game in the first 20 minutes and when they went ahead, we didn’t have that quality needed to unlock them at that point to get back in the match.”
Like most games in the Championship, the game was again one of fine margins, but the North End boss didn’t use that as an excuse for the scoreline: “What you want to do is find yourself on the right side of [fine margins],” he continued.
“If you don’t start well and don’t compete well enough and think that you are going into a nice pretty game then naturally the team on the front foot is going to get the upper hand and that’s exactly what happened.
“We generally are very competitive and I thought we lacked that edge in the first 20 minutes, which is disappointing.”
He handed debuts to two starters in Daniel Iversen and Ben Whiteman and brough Ched Evans off the break and he felt that his new No.17 grew into the game.
“I thought [Ben Whiteman] got better as the game went on, like all the players – no-one started the game well. I thought he settled down.
“In the first half he was quite safe in his passing, in the second half he looked to create more further up the pitch and for 30 minutes we were totally dominant and he played his part in that.
“What we need to understand, is that we need to be patient with him. He has come from another club and another level and naturally, like all the players, he is going to take time, but equally we want to win games and that is important for us.
“It is important for the lads to get some minuets under their belt. We had some of the other lads come on as well and we just need to get ourselves ready now for Wednesday,” he added.