Alex Neil explains Preston North End’s subs’ strategy in late defeat by West Brom

Alex Neil has explained why his substitutions came so late in Preston’s defeat against West Bromwich Albion.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 5:00 pm
David Nugent (left) and Billy Bodin come on as late substitutes in Preston's defeat against West Bromwich Albion at Deepdale

The Lilywhites manager waited until the 88th minute to bring on Josh Harrop for Brad Potts – the scoreline was goalless at the time.

After Albion scored their controversial 90th-minute from the penalty spot, Neil sent on David Nugent and Billy Bodin for Sean Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen.

Neil had been happy with North End’s shape throughout the game, hence a reluctance to change things.

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While he certainly had a lot more attacking options on the bench than defensive ones, it would have meant a tactical rethink and at 0-0 things were going well.

“If you are going to put on technicians in wide areas to play in pockets of space, you need to play in a manner to find them and get them on the ball,” said Neil.

“The problem we had was that it was no use having technicians on when we had to turn the ball.

“We needed to be more direct and I thought we did that well.

“We needed guys with legs who would pick second balls up, be aggressive, run with the ball.

“That is what we went with, that worked well and that is why I was hesitant to make a substitution.

“Any substitution I was going to make would have made us a little bit technically better but also a little bit more flowery in the middle area.

“When I eventually made a change, they got the penalty seconds later so it hadn’t had time to work.”

Despite the defeat, Neil took many positives.

Said Neil: “We were compact and as a unit we were excellent. We hunted the ball from the front and didn’t try to sit in.

“There were times when West Brom played through the first press so naturally we were deeper. In the second half we were much better going forward.”