Alex Neil hails Preston’s consistent form ahead of clashes with the top two

Alex Neil says his Preston North End side are on an ‘incredible run’ of consistent form heading into a testing spell of games.

SLIDESHOW: Brentford v PNE fans’ gallery

Preston's Manager Alex Neil

Preston's Manager Alex Neil

PNE’s 1-1 draw at Brentford means they have lost just one of their last 15 Championship matches.

On their travels, Neil’s men are unbeaten in eight in the league, a run stretching back to early November.

They play the division’s top two in the next two games, with leaders Wolves visiting Deepdale on Saturday before a trip to second-placed Aston Villa a week on Tuesday.

Neil said: “We have had one loss in 15 league games now, that is an incredible run at this level.

“If you had offered us a draw from the Brentford game beforehand, I think we would probably have taken that.

“Had you told the Preston fans on the way down that we would be without Tom Clarke, Ben Davies and Ben Pearson, you would have thought ‘this is going to be a tough one’.

“We also had a man sent-off with 15 minutes to go and still managed to get a point.

“That speaks volumes for the character of our team and how hard they work.”

Tom Barkhuizen gave PNE the lead at Griffin Park early in the second half but a Florian Jozefzoon goal eight minutes later pegged them back.

Greg Cunningham was sent-off in the 75th minute for two bookings within the space of 90 seconds – Neil labelling both yellow cards as ‘soft’.

The left-back will miss the Wolves game as a result of the one-match ban which follows the red card.

Reflecting on the point in West London, Neil said: “We did fantastically well.

“Brentford has never been a good hunting ground for Preston and that is due to the fact Brentford are a good team.

“They move the ball really well but we competed well and in the first half we created the better opportunities.

“Although we were a bit disappointed that we didn’t hang on to the lead, I don’t think we could ask anymore of the players in terms of how hard they worked.”

Skipper Clarke missed the game through injury but did travel to the capital with the squad.

Neil says Clarke won’t be fit for the Wolves game but says the injury is not related to the torn Achilles which kept Clarke out for seven months.

With Davies having not quite recovered from a pulled hamstring to face Brentford, Tommy Spurr was given his first outing at the back since returning from knee surgery.

On the subject of Clarke, Neil said: “Unfortunately Tom has got an injury.

“He’s certainly not going to be fit for next week let’s put it that way – but it’s not anything to do with his Achilles.

“Hopefully Ben Davies will train this week and be ready for the next game.”