PNE boss Alex Neil insists play-off bid’s not over yet

Alex Neil insists Preston’s play-off dream is not over after defeat to top-six rivals Derby on Easter Monday.

MATCH REPORT: Preston North End 0-1 Derby County

Alan Browne rues his penalty miss as PNE's play-off hopes were hit with defeat to Derby

Alan Browne rues his penalty miss as PNE's play-off hopes were hit with defeat to Derby

Alan Browne missed a first-half penalty before Tom Lawrence’s long-range free-kick early in the second period handed the Rams a 1-0 win and a big three points in the battle at the sharp end of the Championship.

Back-to-back defeats over Easter mean Alex Neil’s side are now five points behind Derby with six games to play.

“We’ve been five points away from the play-offs at certain times this year, granted there are only six games left, but we’ve managed to close that gap before,” Neil said.

“Funny things will happen between now and the end of the season because pressure will come into it and people will feel it.

“It’s just a case of trying to win as many games as we can. Regardless of what anybody says, we’ve had a good season.

“Today is naturally disappointing for us and we’re gutted that we haven’t managed to get a result but we’ve got six games to finish our season off and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Browne saw his penalty shortly before the interval skim the outside of the post after he had been brought down by Andre Wisdom.

“I don’t think the penalty miss was the biggest factor in the game because that happens,” Neil said.

“The players are gutted. Alan Browne is devastated after the game because he thinks he’s let people down.

“But the simple fact is that without him we would not be in the position we’re in and I’ve told him that.”

Neil’s only frustration was that his side did not turn their promising play into goals, his side having 64 per cent possession and 19 shots, even if only three were on target.

“The only thing that we’re all frustrated about is that we haven’t shown that little bit of quality when it was needed,” said Neil.

“To have 19 shots at goal in comparison to Derby’s two, I think that tells you the story of the match.

“I couldn’t have asked for much more from my team.

“I thought they went about their work well, they tried hard, they won their individual battles, they passed the ball better and created the better opportunities.

“That’s pretty much everything you would ask from your team.

“Normally that equates to winning the game but unfortunately it didn’t.”

Neil was disappointed with the goal, Lawrence’s swerving effort getting the better of the returning Chris Maxwell, Declan Rudd dropped to the bench after the 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

“I don’t think he should get beaten from that distance,” the PNE boss said.