PNE boss says inexperience proved costly
Alex Neil felt some '˜know-how' was missing from Preston's game in their Deepdale draw with Sunderland.
The Lilywhites fell behind in the first half but hit back to score twice in two minutes early in the second half with goals from Josh Harrop and Jordan Hugill.
It was a lead they could only hang on to briefly before PNE old boy Aiden McGeady hit a Black Cats equaliser.
“I thought that Sunderland looked experienced over our inexperience at times,” said Neil.
“I wouldn’t say they were easy on the eye but they threw everything down the line and looked for second-balls.
“When it did drop, they turned things over us and tried to get us facing our own goal, which is hard to play against.
“But as we are a good side, that shouldn’t be enough to beat us and I told the lads that at half-time.
“When you are playing against that approach, you have to win your headers and tackles – in the first half we didn’t do that.
“We then did it better in the second half and got ourselves in the lead.
“So naturally I was going to be disappointed we didn’t win.
“We unfortunately didn’t quite have the experience and a bit of know-how to see us across the line.”
Neil was encouraged by the manner in which North End went about the job of getting back into the game after going behind.
Harrop’s free-kick got a last touch off Sunderland striker James Vaughan for the hosts’ equaliser but it did not change the direction of the ball.
The second from Hugill saw him hammer a left-foot volley into the net from the edge of the box.
Said Neil: “They were two great goals.
“I didn’t think Jordan had his best first half, that is why I moved him out wide in the second half.
“Their two centre-backs had dealt with him relatively comfortably, so we isolated him against a smaller full-back.
“He did well doing that, won a lot of headers and that led to the free-kick for the first goal.
“It was a wonderful strike from Jordan with his weaker foot for the second goal.
“That’s five for the season now and hopefully he can keep that going.”
Neil admitted having no natural holding midfielder was a blow.
John Welsh failed a fitness test on the morning of the game, joining Ben Pearson in the stand, who missed his sixth game on the bounce.
“Not having a defensive midfield player caused us a few problems,” said Neil.
“John had a fitness test in the morning but just wasn’t ready for the game.”