First goal against Sheffield Wednesday is crucial for Alex Neil

Preston North End boss Alex Neil feels that the first goal in Wednesday's game against Sheffield Wednesday will be crucial.

Neil's side have been struggling for form lately and struggling to find fluidity going forwards, using four different players in the no.9 role since the restart.

North End have scored twice in four games but failed to register a shot on target in the 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town at the weekend.

By getting the first goal, the 39-year-old believes PNE can be at their most effective, by forcing the opposition to play more open games and exploiting their risks.

Alex Neil at Deepdale.

"The first goal is crucial, that's something I've spoken about since I've been at the club, for three seasons," Neil said.

"That's not changed, the first goal for us is so important in terms of teams sitting in a deep block, teams sitting behind the ball.

"We've always found it difficult in terms of that creativity to open them up. When we've had the first goal, I think our record, I expect, would be pretty good. What it allows us to do then is be excellent, as we are, in transition.

"I've spoken about trying to be more expansive and try and break teams down and leaving holes, I think that's happened to us on a couple of occasions, the Cardiff game stick so out in my mind clearly. We were forcing the issue trying to get a goal and we leave ourselves exposed and they get the winner.

"They're the fine margins you're working with at this level.

"When we do get the first goal we don't need to expose ourselves to try and get the win, and I think that suits us down to the ground. We can draw teams onto us and they leave spaces and we've got guys with pace at the top end generally, certainly off the flanks.

"It all boils down to one thing, and that is whether you win or lose. Every single person is an expert after the event.

"Unfortunately in my job, I've got to try and predict what's going to happen before it happens., whereas everyone can turn around say why did you pick him.

"I'm thinking 'well, if I knew he was going to be rubbish I wouldn't have played him, but unfortunately I didn't know that.'

"It's always easier after the event."

As a team that thrives of momentum and atmosphere, Neil has voiced his frustrations at a lack of atmosphere in PNE's game so far.

Fan noise and be used if the home team chooses, but it cannot be used for televised games such as the Cardiff City and Derby County clashes at Deepdale.

With a trip to Hillsborough on the horizon, the Scot is once again at the mercy of the hosts on that particular topic.

He said: "When I watch football on the TV, I don't really notice that the fans aren't there, even though there aren't any there and there's fan noise instead.

"I know that's that's on the TV and it might be a bit different in the stadium. When you're a player, you don't ever look up and try and spot who's in the crowd, you just hear them and know they're there.

"I'm not sure how much it would effect but I'd like to think it would certainly help.

"Huddersfield was quite frustrating for me if I'm being brutally honest, because we were on Sky for both home games we were never going to sample the fan sounds and we presumed and thought going to Huddersfield that they were going to use it, and they didn't. It was stone dead.

"We've played four games and we still haven't sampled what it's like having the sound at the games, naturally, we're not going to be in control of that going to Sheffield either."