Improved away form is a big boost for Preston, says boss Alex Neil

Tom Barkhuizen is congratulated by Jordan storey, Alan Browne and Sean Maguire after scoring the winning goal against Bolton
Tom Barkhuizen is congratulated by Jordan storey, Alan Browne and Sean Maguire after scoring the winning goal against Bolton

Preston finding their form on the road was only a matter of time, according to Alex Neil.

The weekend derby win at Bolton was their third away victory on the bounce and a fifth this season.

Bearing in mind the first of those wins didn’t come until November 10, it has been quite a turnaround.

Goals from Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen helped North End to a 2-1 victory over Bolton, it coming on the back of wins at Stoke and QPR.

It is the first time PNE have won three league away games on the bounce since 2015.

That happened three times in the promotion season from League One.

The last time they won three Championship away games in a row was in 2005.

North End boss Neil told the Post: “It is quite difficult to put my finger on why we didn’t get the away results to start with because we were very good at it last season.

“We weren’t quite at it, with injuries and suspensions playing a big part.

“I felt earlier in the season there were away games when we deserved more.

“I think back to Aston Villa when we were terrific in the second half and deserved to win, we were terrific in the second half too at Sheffield United.

“When I was talking to the lads at half-time at Bolton when we were only winning 1-0, I said that people don’t talk about how well you have played if you don’t win.

“What we needed to do was win the game and people would talk about what a good performance it was.

“The lads did their jobs and got the win, that was a result which we totally deserved.

“It should have been about four and that’s being fair.”

Browne fired North End in front five minutes before the interval, that the reward for a dominant first-half display in front of 4,565 travelling fans.

That was the midfielder’s 11th goal of the season, with the recalled Barkhuizen on target with his seventh late in the second half.

Neil said: “The way Alan plays suits us down to the ground and we suit him down to the ground.

“We play to his strengths as we do with Ben Pearson, as we do with Callum Robinson when he is available and as we do with Sean Maguire.

“We set our team up in the fashion which suits our lads, Alan Browne fits into that and is an integral part.

“Brad Potts is very similar to Alan, we have got quality players and good flexibility.

“The bit I do, although it is time consuming, is easy, the bit the players do is much more difficult.

“They have to perform, be aggressive, be athletic and move the ball well.”

PNE are back in action on Wednesday night when they host Norwich at Deepdale.