Preston North End boss Alex Neil full of pride with his depleted side's performance against Aston Villa

Alex Neil said Preston North End's performance in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa gave him the biggest sense of pride in his time as Deepdale boss.

Saturday, 29th December 2018, 9:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:52 am
Jordan Storey fires against the bar in Preston's draw with Aston Villa

The Lilywhites were without 10 first-team players for the clash with Villa and had four teenagers on the bench.

Two of them, Adam O'Reilly and Ethan Walker, came on in the closing stages, 16-year-old Walker becoming the youngest player to play for PNE in a league game.

After bossing large spells of the first half, North End fell behind in the 45th minute to a Tammy Abraham header.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jordan Storey fires against the bar in Preston's draw with Aston Villa

But they pulled level on the hour mark, Lukas Nmecha claiming the equaliser although it was officially given as a Ahmed Elmohamady own goal.

Neil said: "In my time here we have put a lot of good performances in against teams who have had vast amounts of money invested in them and have got expectations of being in the Premier League.

"That was arguably as proud as I have been since I have been here in terms of the effort, the quality, how we went about the game.

"The only disappointment was the fact we didn't win, I thought we deserved it.

Preston manager Alex Neil

"All you can ask of your players is that they give everything they have got.

"You set them up, give them the best opportunity to try and play well, understand the system is terms of trying to stop the opposition.

"To be honest they couldn't have done it any better in terms of how they performed.

"Individually on the ball they were excellent, the intensity and how they hunted it was great.

Tom Barkhuizen lifts a shot too high in Preston's draw with Aston Villa

"You just hope that when the chances come along you take them and one or two were a bit unfortunate not to score."

Neil admitted Villa taking the lead just before the interval was disappointing but he liked the way North End bounced back.

"Conceding before half-time was a source of frustration for us because we didn't deserve that," said Neil.

"The goal certainly came against the run of play, we lost Abraham at the corner and we should do better.

"To go and do what we did in the second half against Aston Villa was remarkable in terms of character.

"I spoke at length before the game with the players about making sure they didn't feel they were the victim today, when you have so many injured lads it is easy to feel sorry for yourselves.

"We didn't do that, it is what it is, it was about rolling up our sleeves and going out to show what we are all about.

"The lads did more than that."