Contrasting emotions for Preston boss Alex Neil in draw against Bournemouth

Alex Neil expressed himself satisfied with Preston North End’s second-half comeback against AFC Bournemouth but was disappointed with their first-half show.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites drew 1-1 with the Cherries at Deepdale, Daniel Johnson netting a 71st equaliser with a well-taken shot from the edge of the box.

Amaut Danjuma had given the visitors the lead during a first half they dominated.

North End boss Neil felt his side had played with a touch of ‘fear’ in the opening 45 minutes, the defence dropping deeper than they needed to.

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PNE boss Alex Neil

That had affected the press Neil had wanted to employ, something they rectified at half-time.

In the second half PNE worked their way back and Johnson scored his fifth goal of the season.

Neil said: “To be honest what annoyed me the most in the first half was that what we did was not how we set out to go about it.

“We had set up to go right up against Bournemouth, be aggressive, get in their faces.

“When you apply pressure like that you need your defence to have a high line so that the midfield isn’t covering three-quarters of the pitch trying to get to someone.

“If you line is really high, you are within touching distance of the opposition and you can make up ground no problem.

“The moment your defence drops as deep as it did, you can’t apply pressure.

“We didn’t set out to drop deep, we dropped deep out of fear maybe?

“But I thought that once we had a chat at half-time, we improved considerably in the second half. That gave us the foundation to go on and try to get something out of it.”

An injury to Andrew Hughes meant a recall for Paul Huntington in defence, with Jordan Storey playing as the left-sided centre back.

It was another change in the back line, Liam Lindsay still sidelined and Patrick Bauer out of the season.

Neil said: “The majority of changes have been forced on us, they haven’t been voluntary.

“What we didn’t have in the Bournemouth game was that natural balance with a left foot on the left side.

“We got caught out for their goal with that. Jordan sort of over-compensated covering that channel and got done on the inside.”

Saturday’s draw nudged PNE up to 13th place in the Championship table, 13 points off sixth place and 12 clear of 22nd placed Rotherham.

They had a clear midweek before hitting the road for back-to-back away games.

This weekend the Lilywhites face Wycombe at Adams Park, then they go to Middlesbrough a week tomorrow.

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