Confidence sky high for play-off push says Preston boss Alex Neil

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Preston boss Alex Neil says confidence is sky high at Deepdale when it comes to bridging the gap to the Championship play-offs.

ALSO READ: Alex Neil hails 'magnificent' PNE display as penalty denies them all three points at Aston Villa
For the second time in a matter of days North End felt they should have tasted victory against one of the division’s big-hitters at Aston Villa last night.

Preston celebrate Tom Barkhuizen's opener at Villa Park.

Preston celebrate Tom Barkhuizen's opener at Villa Park.

The Lilywhites had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Villa Park as a controversial second-half penalty from Lewis Grabban cancelled out Tom Barkhuizen’s opener.

On the back of matching Wolves at Deepdale on Saturday it was another strong showing for Neil’s men who controlled large parts of the game against a side third in the table.

“People will look at our squad and look at their squads and think we should just roll over and get our bellies tickled but that’s not how we work,” said the PNE boss, who saw his side close to within two points of the top six.

“We work extremely hard. I’m proud of my team and the players are proud players they want to go and show what they can do.

“Over the last three weeks against Brentford, against Wolves and again tonight we’ve shown we can mix it with the best in the league.

“Our budget doesn’t need to be the size of theirs, how we go about it is what matters.

“I’ve never been more confident in any team that I’ve ever had.

“I have the utmost confidence in this team because they’ve never let me down.

“We’ve got a great chance.”

There was again no fear on the big stage, Barkhuizen’s opener seven minutes before the break the least North End deserved.

“The players should relish it,” said Neil.

“That’s the test that’s put in front of them.

“If they think they deserve to be at the top of the table they need to go and show it.

“Talking about it doesn’t make any difference.”

The turning point came midway through the second half when the PNE goalscorer was penalised for an aerial challenge on Keinan Davis, Grabban making no mistake from 12 yards.

“You can’t just point the finger and say ‘hard on us’,” said Neil.

“We created enough chances in the game to win it.

“We’ve should have taken more chances so that’s probably the one criticism that I would have of us.

“When you only get the one goal regardless whether it’s a soft penalty or a bit of magic from somebody you leave yourself susceptible.

“We’ve got to use that frustration and disappointment to spur us on.

“If we continue to perform as well as we did tonight and convert more of a chances then there’s no reason why we can’t have a very good end to the season.”