Alex Neil thinks Preston North End beat Barnsley at their own game

Preston North End manager Alex Neil believes his side beat Barnsley at their own game as his side ran out 3-0 winners.

By Tom Sandells
Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 10:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 10:42 pm
It was job done for Alex Neil as his side went into the break three goals to the good.
It was job done for Alex Neil as his side went into the break three goals to the good.

North End scored three first half goals to put themselves into the ascendancy and their goals proved unanswered.

Tom Barkhuizen opened the scoring, finishing off an excellently worked move down the right to score for the first time since his goal of the month winner against Blackburn Rovers.

Daniel Johnson then doubled PNE's lead, turning home after Josh Harrop's shot was blocked by a defender on the six yard line, with Barkhuizen then completing the scoring on the stroke of half time, beating the 'keeper when one on one.

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Alex Neil congratulates Ben Pearson after the win at Oakwell.

Neil chose to go toe-to-toe with Barnsley, who regularly play a narrow midfield, and set up in a diamond formation, a decision which he felt was brave.

He said: "To be honest, I thought it was quite ballsy, how we set up.

"We went with two inside forwards, we matched them up in the middle - thats a system they’re used to playing.

"But I’ve watched a lot of teams play against them and try to press that system, it’s really difficult to do it.

"So I thought the best way to do it was the way we set up. I thought we did it really well and they struggle to get any sort of pattern in the match.

"Up, back and throughs are always going to cause them problems. It was one of those games, you saw it in the first five or ten minutes, the more touches you take, they swarm you and counter.

"We took about five minutes to get into the game but our first quality pattern of play down the right results in a goal and then I thought we picked up the tempo, in terms of our passing, and we didn’t really give them a lot to press.

"They have been very good at pressing and we beat them at their own game, really."

The PNE boss couldn't have been happier with the situation his side found themselves in, getting into the lead and repelling any Barnsley attacks.

"We worked really hard, I though they worked the shape really well and carried a threat throughout the game.

"I don’t think we can be any more pleased than that.

"We’ve spoken about it on numerous occasions in the press conferences leading up to this, getting the first goal is really important at this level.

"Then to get three in the first half, and keep a clean sheet, I thought was a real solid performance."