Boss tells Ben: Cut out the cards

Ben Pearson is sent off against Leeds at Elland Road
Ben Pearson is sent off against Leeds at Elland Road
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Alex Neil thinks that Preston midfielder Ben Pearson can cut down on the yellow cards without it taking the edge off his normal game.

Pearson was sent off at Leeds for two bookings and will sit out tomorrow night’s visit to Derby as a result.

The midfielder served three suspensions last term for totting up 16 cautions and has now been booked 36 times in his first-team career.

However, his dismissal at Elland Road was the first time Pearson had seen red.

“If you make silly decisions you are going to pick up silly bookings which means you will get punished in the long-run,” said Neil.

“I’m not asking Ben not to make tackles, I’m not telling him not to be aggressive.

“What I’m doing is asking him to play with his head a bit more, make good decisions in good areas – he is more than capable of doing that.

“He is young and will make errors, he’s made one on this occasion.

“We will suffer for the next game because he can’t play.

“As a team, we can’t afford for our best players not to be there – Ben is one of our best players.”

North End played for 30 minutes without Pearson and held out under a great deal of pressure from Leeds.

That said, Neil’s men twice nearly scored in the closing stages – Daniel Johnson’s low cross rolling across the face of goal and Josh Harrop hit the bar with a 95th-minute shot.

Understandably, Neil was delighted with the result and performance.

The PNE boss said: “When you go down to 10 men away from home at any place, let alone Leeds, it is never going to be easy.

“You need a bit of heart and a bit of character – we had to dig in.

“Leeds put dangerous balls into our box, they put us under pressure, but we stood up to it.

“When we needed a save from our goalkeeper, he did that.

“Before the sending-off, it was a different game.

“For 60 minutes, Leeds couldn’t live with the tempo we played at.

“We were very athletic and very mobile in certain areas of the pitch, picking up second balls and taking the game to them.”

North End will check on the fitness of Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen ahead of playing Derby at Pride Park.

On Saturday, Browne went down with a bout of cramp just before the game went into stoppage time.

Barkhuizen limped off in the 65th minute, with Harrop coming on for his PNE debut.

Said Neil: “I think both of them cramped-up because of the amount of running they did.

“We’ve got another big game now and have to get ready for that.”