Horgan unlucky not to face the Blades

Daryl Horgan has been on the fringes since Alex Neil replaced Simon Grayson as PNE boss Daryl Horgan has been on the fringes since Alex Neil replaced Simon Grayson as PNE boss
Daryl Horgan has been on the fringes since Alex Neil replaced Simon Grayson as PNE boss Daryl Horgan has been on the fringes since Alex Neil replaced Simon Grayson as PNE boss

Alex Neil admitted Daryl Horgan was a victim of circumstances after remaining on the bench during Preston’s win over Sheffield United.

The Irishman put in a breakthrough display as a second-half substitute against Burton, scoring in the 2-1 win at the Pirelli Stadium.

Many thought that could lead to a first Championship start of the season against the Blades at Deepdale on Saturday but it was bench duty for a 20th time this 
campaign.

Saturday’s win was one that saw Neil flex his tactical muscles, the various systems deployed not suiting Horgan’s qualities 
according to the PNE boss.

Kevin O’Connor was a first-half replacement for the injured Darnell Fisher at left-back, while Josh Harrop and Alan Browne were introduced after the break.

“The issue we had was that because we played the diamond we didn’t play with any out-and-out wide players,” said Neil, whose side recorded a third straight win and moved within two points of the 
play-off places.

“That’s what swayed it. Daryl’s then a bit unfortunate because the two substitutes we made were to match their diamond up in the middle 
towards the end so there was no need for wide players later on in the game either.

“If I was putting a wide player on then Daryl would certainly be at the forefront of my mind but the game didn’t suit him on Saturday because of the way it ended up later on.”

There may have been no Horgan but Neil saw his plan to stifle the previously free-scoring Blades work to perfection, Chris Wilder’s men leaving Deepdale having mustered just one shot on target.

“The front two are very lively and have scored a lot of goals so we had to stop the service,” said Neil.

“Even when we went to a three we put our two wide players really high to pin the wing backs in.

“They didn’t have much 
influence on the match which if you’ve seen Sheffield United this season is highly unusual because they’re usually very effective.

“Then we had to flood that middle area to make sure that if they weren’t playing wide then they couldn’t play through the middle.

“We made them go long and I was relying on my two centre-backs to be dominant which they were.

“As far as a game-plan and the lads carrying it out was concerned, I thought they did it really well.”