Alex Neil knows Preston North End have no wiggle-room left in race to reach play-offs

Alex Neil admits Preston’s draw at Luton was very much a missed opportunity in terms of their play-off push.

Monday, 22nd June 2020, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road after the Hatters scored a late equaliser.

It squeezed any breathing space they had in the top-six chase after results elsewhere over the weekend did them no favours.

Cardiff’s win over Leeds yesterday brought the Welsh side – who visit Deepdale on Saturday lunchtime – level on points with PNE.

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Scott Sinclair was on target for Preston in their draw at Luton on Saturday

Blackburn and Swansea are just a point behind after wins over Bristol City and Middlesbrough respectively.

North End manager Neil said: “I’m not satisfied with a point, that is being brutally honest.

“It would be easy to wash over it and say it was the first game but as a squad we are not happy with not winning.

“We deserved to win but we dropped a bit of concentration at the end and that cost us.

“We are going to have to make sure along the way we win more difficult games than this one was.

“That is the task for us in the weeks ahead.”

North End led from the 53rd minute when Scott Sinclair found the net.

He ran on to a pass from Tom Barkhuizen to run clear and slot a shot across the keeper into the far corner.

Sinclair’s goal pleased Neil but he would have liked more clear-cut chances to have come his side’s way.

Said Neil: “That is what we want Scott to do, he has got that cutting edge.

“I was a bit frustrated at half-time because we had got into some good areas but played safe rather than trying to get at them.

“Scott’s goal typified what we were looking for more of.

“Barky got the ball down on the half-turn, took it in and played Scott down the side.

“His finish was really tidy and that was pleasing.”

Neil admitted experiencing football’s new environment had been strange.

The PNE players changed into their kit at the hotel and a hospitality lounge was their dressing room at the ground.

Straight after the game they went to Luton’s training ground to shower.

All the Preston squad and staff wore protective snoods when arriving and leaving the ground.

Neil took a pool of 23 players, with Paul Huntington, Tom Bayliss and Joe Rafferty the three who did not make the matchday squad.

Tom Clarke was not in the travelling squad because of a knee injury.

“It was very different, it was very eerie in the stadium and you could hear every shout and groan on the pitch,” said Neil. “The tempo suffered a little bit – teams will have to generate it themselves.”