PNE boss Alex Neil urges his men to bounce back quickly after Sheffield Wednesday defeat

Alex Neil has challenged his Preston players to hit back after their play-off hopes were dealt a blow with defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

The PNE boss saw his side concede four for the first time under his stewardship in the 4-1 reverse at Hillsborough.

Ben Pearson battles with Barry Bannan during PNE's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Ben Pearson battles with Barry Bannan during PNE's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

All the goals came in the second half with two in two minutes from Atdhe Nuhiu and Lucas Joao putting the hosts in command.

Louis Moult’s first North End goal gave North End hope of taking something from the game only for stoppage time strikes from Nuhiu and Fernando Forestieri to confirm the three points for the Owls.

Neil now knows a reaction is needed on Easter Monday when top six rivals Derby visit Deepdale.

“I’ve been in this situation before in the two promotions that I’ve managed to achieve,” said Neil, who has tasted success in the past with Norwich and Hamilton.

Alex Neil dishes out instructions on Good Friday.

Alex Neil dishes out instructions on Good Friday.

“We’ve lost games at crucial times in the season and then what’s happened is we’ve responded afterwards and come back even stronger.

“For us to have any hope of being in contention this season we’re going to have to do the same.

“We’re disappointed but we’ll come again.”

Neil felt the scoreline was harsh on his side, who created plenty of good chances but were punished for some lax play at both ends of the field.

“It will be a strange game for the players,” the PNE boss said.

“I’ve played in those games sometimes where you’re coming away thinking, ‘I’ve played pretty well today but we’ve lost 4-1’.

“I apologised for the Ipswich game because I thought we were really poor, we didn’t have any cohesion whatsoever.

“But I don’t think we lacked effort and tempo here. The fact is though we need to put it to bed.

“When we win games we don’t dwell on how well we’ve played.

“We chalk it off and move onto the next one and we’ll do the exact same here.”

Good chances came and went for Ben Davies, Sean Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen amongst others but it was the defence that came in for more criticism from Neil.

“I said to the players afterwards that individually at the back that was some of the poorer performances from us since I’ve been here,” he said.

“It’s extremely disappointing because we’re at judgement time of the season now.

“We need to continue with the performances we’ve put in to get ourselves to this point or maybe go to another level from what we’ve delivered so far.

“Our away form has been great.

“That’s our first loss in about 12 matches. We’re all disappointed.”