Boss Alex Neil furious at Preston North End’s failure to see out game

Alex Neil said even amateur footballers could have carried out his game plan as he fumed following North End’s 2-1 defeat to Millwall on Tuesday.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 8:00 am

The Lions scored their winner just four minutes from time, giving Preston little chance to respond to what was an error at the back which allowed Mason Bennett to net.

Neil had given a clear game plan to his players prior to the match, which in part was getting the ball forward quickly in attack and making sure there was no space in behind their own defence.

The 39-year-old felt the former was not done well enough, and the latter cost them the game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Alex Neil pictured at The Den following PNE’s defeat on Tuesday night

He said: “Amateur footballers can turn the ball in behind, you don’t need any nous for that. 

“How far can you kick the ball? That’s pretty much all you need. We handed the advantage to them with just poor balls forward. 

“That was the difference in the second half for me. When they clipped it in behind, they made it so we had to defend it. 

“When we put it forward we were dropping the ball about 10 feet away from Ched Evans and expecting him to wrestle with two players to keep the ball alive. 

“We just didn’t do it well enough, it’s as simple as that. 

“Then we didn’t defend a moment which is really straightforward. 

“You can see Bennett running – it’s a straight run. He doesn’t even come off the back of us, he was right in front of us and runs straight in behind, gets a header and a goal. 

“The game was exactly what I explained to the players that was coming and the goal was exactly what I told them we needed to defend against. That’s why I’m so frustrated with the goal.”

Given Millwall’s record this season, Neil knew the game would be a close contest. He felt it would take a moment of quality to decide it, and there were two. Evans’ stunning volley opened the scoring before Scott Malone found the top corner from distance to level things up.

After those two individual moments, the PNE boss feels his side should have seen the game out.

He said: “Millwall have lost eight games all season, which is one of the lowest in the division. 

“We knew this was going to be a tight game. What I was hoping, and I said to the players, that it was going to take a moment of quality to decide the match and that’s what it should have been. 

“Unfortunately they had one moment of quality which equalled that out. 

“What it should have been was a rubbish game, both teams found it difficult to build up and play.

“Then see the game out – that’s it.”