Neil praises PNE's young side after victory

Preston North End manager Alex Neil says his young side were fully deserving of their win over Reading.

Saturday, 19th August 2017, 7:15 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 1:04 pm
Josh Earl tracks Moduo Barrow, watched by Alex Neil

The Lilywhites won 1-0 at Deepdale, a 23rd minute volley from Jordan Hugill settling the contest.

Neil gave a debut to first-year professional Josh Earl at left-back in place of the injured Greg Cunningham, while Josh Harrop made his first start.

"I was extremely satisfied with that, I thought we were the better side throughout the game," said Neil.

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Alex Neil watches PNE's win over Reading

"We created numerous opportunities and the only frustration we would have is the fact it only finished 1-0.

"If it had finished three or four I don't think anyone could have too many complaints.

"Also, look at how young the side was today because of the players we had missing.

"When we beat Reading last season we had Aiden McGeady, Tom Clarke and Greg Cunningham in the side, guys who had seen it and done it.

Alex Neil watches PNE's win over Reading

"Today we did it with Josh Earl who was making his debut and is 18, Ben Davies who is 22 - playing his second game at this level - Stephy Mavididi who came on and played his first game at this level, he is 19.

"It was an incredible effort, I thought they were top, top drawer, I was delighted with them."

Hugill's goal was PNE's first in the league from open play, with him volleying home after Sean Maguire had knocked down a Tom Barkhuizen cross.

Neil said: "The goal came from one of many great moves we had, unfortunately we didn't convert the other ones.

"Our objective was to win the game, we worked extremely hard, our shape was excellent and we had a lot of great individual performances."

Before the game, North End confirmed that stand-in skipper Cunningham had suffered a serious injury in the latter stages of last Tuesday night's defeat at Derby.

Afterwards, Neil gave more details of the prognosis.

Neil said: "Greg's knee was giving way in the Derby game and I made reference to him being a warrior afterwards

"He woke up on Wednesday morning and felt fine which I was thinking didn't really add up.

"What had happened is that the muscle goes into the tendon which attaches to the bone, part of the tendon had ripped off and it tore the muscle.

"He had a 28cm tear I think which needs to get reattached.

"That means he is going to be out for a considerable amount of time.

"Greg is disappointed as we all are, he has been made captain this season in the absence of Tom Clarke and is gutted.

"He had started the season great, I'm gutted for him because he is a great lad who works extremely hard - the lads look up to him."