Alex Neil: Substitutes were the 'catalyst' for Preston North End's win over Middlesbrough at Deepdale

Alex Neil felt Preston North End thoroughly deserved their victory over Middlesbrough, with his substitutions a key part of the night.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 11:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th December 2020, 9:19 am

The Lilywhites were 3-0 winners at Deepdale, Brad Potts, Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis finding the net against Neil Warnock's men.

Pots deflected home a shot from Andrew Hughes to make the breakthrough in the 62nd minute, before Sinclair and Riis struck twice in the last 10 minutes.

Riis was on as a substitute, his arrival on the pitch coming after an earlier triple change in which Tom Bayliss, Josh Earl and Sean Maguire had joined the action.

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Preston North End manager Alex Neil gives instructions to Darnell Fisher during the win against Middlesbrough at Deepdale

Neil said: "To win the game was pleasing because our home form has been well documented, it's been spoken about at length.

"Middlesbrough came here to be physical and direct, they are hard to play against.

"When you try to play passing, combination football, their bread and butter is stopping that and hurting you off the back of it.

"We went much more direct, we knew that was a course of action to take to give us the best chance of winning .

North End manager Alex Neil directs proceedings from the touchline

"In the first half we played well and were unfortunate not to be winning. I didn't think we started the second half great, we were a bit flat for 10 minutes or so and Middlesbrough grew into the game.

"Then we got the first goal and that gave us a bit of a lift.

"I thought a key moment in the game was when the subs came on. To their credit every one of them had a positive influence and gave us extra energy.

"It was the catalyst for us to go and win the game."

PNE striker Jayden Stockley battles against Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry

Neil felt North End had a much better balance about them, the return of Darnell Fisher and Andrew Hughes in the full-back positions a big help.

It was Hughes' first game since tearing a hamstring at the end of October, with him getting through 74 minutes of the game before Earl took his place - Earl himself back after injury.

"I thought the back four had a good balance," said Neil.

"We had good size in the areas we needed to. Andrew Hughes and Darnel Fisher, in fact the whole back four, were excellent.

"The midfield were excellent won their battles. Up front Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair were a threat and Jayden Stockley was part of the plan to get us up the pitch

"I thought it worked really well.

"Jayden didn't get too many decision his way. At half-time I had a word with the referee, I didn't think we got a fair balance in the first half.

"But when you are a big target man like Jayden, you will have to rough people up and not get it all your own way."

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