Alex Neil was pleased to see his half-time double substitution come good as Preston saw off 10-man QPR at Deepdale on Saturday.
The Lilywhites were made to work for their 1-0 win, coming courtesy of Jordan Hugill’s goal two minutes from time.
Jamie Mackie’s 22nd minute red card seemingly put PNE in command but after a poor first-half display Josh Harrop and Kevin O’Connnor replaced Alan Browne and the returning Tom Clarke.
That helped turn things North End’s way, Hugill scoring the winner with former Deepdale loanee Alex Baptiste then sent off after the final whistle.
“Because they were playing with a 4-4-1 system, we needed the back of the team to be able to move to ball naturally,” said Neil .
“Paul Huntington playing on the left-hand side and Ben Davies playing left back’s not natural for them.
“Kevin brought his legs and delivery from the left-hand side and there was Josh Harrop’s creativity going forwards.
“I thought we needed a bit extra at the top end of the pitch. That’s the reason I made the decisions.
“After the game if you don’t win a lot of people will criticise that and say ‘you didn’t do the right things’.
“Then if you do win you get the pat on the back. That’s the job of being a manager though.”
Neil had thought about even making the changes before half-time but wanted to see how his first tactical shift, from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 played out.
“I’m brave enough to make the decisions early in the game,” the PNE boss said.
“I was tempted to do it in the first half.
“However because we went two up top I thought ‘we’ll see how this goes’ and see if they can create problems.
“I thought they played too far apart and the quality of the ball wasn’t good enough so we needed natural width in the game to try and go around them rather than through them.
“Because we stretched them we managed to get through them in the end and get the goal.”
Making such a decisive change is something Neil hasn’t been able to do in recent weeks due to a lack of numbers.
“At half-time I wouldn’t have been able to do that in other games because we didn’t have any other options,” Neil said.
“Today I had the luxury of taking a couple of players off and putting another couple on who I thought could do a job and they did that.”