Deepdale scoring memories for new PNE boss
New Preston North End manager Alex Neil could not be described as a prolific goalscorer during his playing days.
But his one appearance at Deepdale saw him find the back of the net.
It came in Barnsley’s 2-2 draw with PNE in November 2001, the night the Alan Kelly Town End was opened.
Neil scored the Tykes’ second goal of the game with a header and hit the post with another chance.
That goal was one of six Neil scored in his time in the English game.
After Barnsley, he moved on to play for Mansfield.
Either side of his time this side of the border were stays with Dunfermline, Airdrie and Hamilton.
Neil faced North End three times as a player – the night he scored at Deepdale being as good as it got.
The previous season, he was in the Barnsley side beaten 4-0 at Oakwell by PNE.
In his Mansfield days, North End won a League Cup clash 4-0 at Field Mill.
Neil started his career in Dunfermline’s youth team before joining Airdrie.
In half a season at Airdrie he scored five goals in 16 appearances, that form landing him a £25,000 move to Barnsley in July 2000.
Neil spent four years in South Yorkshire before heading further down the M1 to join Mansfield.
After 12 months there, he made the return to Scotland to play for Hamilton, a club which was to play such as big part in his career as both as player and manager.
He played 246 games in all competitions for the Accies, scoring four goals.
In April, Neil was appointed interim boss at Hamilton and got the job permanently a month later.
He was only 31 at the time and in that first season led Hamilton to the top flight of Scottish football via the play-offs.
Half-way through the following season, Neil was lured back to England by Norwich.
At Carrow Road, he was the replacement for Neil Adams who had been sacked in the wake of a 2-0 defeat to PNE in the FA Cup.
Neil guided Norwich to promotion four months later, their win against Middlesbrough coming the day after North End’s play-off victory over Swindon.
The Canaries’ stay in the Premier League was to last a season but Neil stayed in post with a brief to try and get them back to the top flight quickly.
With them off the pace in that quest, Neil left in March.