Alex Neil hails second-half display as Preston beat QPR to close on Championship play-off places

Preston North End manager Alex Neil felt a hugely improved second-half performance was behind their victory over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

The Lilywhites fell behind in the 13th minute to a goal from QPR striker Matt Smith but Callum Robinson tapped them level just before the interval.

Alex Neil on the touchline at Loftus Road

Alex Neil on the touchline at Loftus Road

That equaliser didn't spare them from a few harsh half-time words from Neil and the display was much better in the second period.

Alan Browne headed the winner in the 74th minute although at first Robinson was credited with the goal as he made sure Browne's header went over the line.

It was a ninth away victory for North End and pushed them to within three points of the play-offs.

Neil said: "If you look at the stats for this season, we are the team who have come from behind to win most.

Paul Huntington salutes the PNE fans after the final whistle at QPR

Paul Huntington salutes the PNE fans after the final whistle at QPR

"When you do have a setback and go a goal down it is about having that resilience to respond very well.

"If I'm being honest it wasn't so much of a concern when QPR scored, it was more the fact we didn't play well in the first half.

"Our first-half performance was poor, I didn't think we picked up enough second balls and we went too direct in our first ball as well - we should have tried to get it out a bit more.

"We didn't keep the ball enough at the top end, we didn't win enough headers at the back end and that was all addressed at half-time.

"The pleasing thing was that we were able to go in at the break one each.

"We have a method how we want to play and we didn't stick to that in the first half.

"Everything was better in the second half, we kept the ball at the top end more, kept possession better, made more passes.

"We settled down, created good chances, had more intensity and hunted the ball better.

"When you do all that, you give yourself a much better opportunity.

"I thought we ran out worthy winners in the end."

Neil chose not to intervene in the debate over the winning goal, with him just happy that their pressure had paid off.

He said: "It was a great delivery from Paul Gallagher, that is the quality he brings when he comes on the pitch.

"We won't be appealing to give it to any particular player, whoever scores, scores - i just want to make sure we get the three points.

"It was a great ball in and great attacking of the ball."