Alex Neil banking on Preston North End’s home comforts against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United

Josh Harrop is in contention for a start in the Preston team against Leeds at Deepdale
Josh Harrop is in contention for a start in the Preston team against Leeds at Deepdale

Preston North End will lean on their strong home record for support tonight as they look to get the weekend defeat to Reading out of the system.

The Lilywhites host Leeds at Deepdale in a top-six clash and Alex Neil is confident of a far better display than the weekend’s error-strewn show which saw their eight-match unbeaten run end.

Neil’s men have won five and drawn one of their six home Championship games.

If they could maintain that form under the floodlights this evening, it would greatly help to draw a line under the Madejski Stadium loss.

North End manager Neil said: “The way we have evolved a little bit this season has helped us at home.

“We have been better with the ball this year, we have been more aggressive with the way we have used the full-backs. We’ve been more patient 
rather than turning the ball forward, we have looked to build more.

“The personnel has helped that, Patrick Bauer coming in for example.

“The lads have played well for the majority of the time in the home games and we’ve been really threatening going forward.

“That’s been a big catalyst and hopefully we can keep that going.”

Neil is expected to tweak the line-up tonight, although not necessarily just on the back of the Reading defeat.

With playing Saturday and Tuesday, he often likes to give the starting XI a fresh look.

Josh Harrop and Alan Browne are two in contention to start, both having come on as substitutes at Reading.

Leeds make the trip over the Pennines in second place and Neil is a big admirer of how Marcelo Bielsa has the Peacocks set up.

Their use of width will be a big test for Neil’s approach. Neil said: “Leeds have their full-backs wide and have two wingers out on the touchline.

“It makes it more difficult to press. When you press, you try and make the pitch as small as possible.

“If you can make it small as possible, it condenses the play into one half of the pitch.

“It means that everyone is within touching distance of each other.

“If one goes, you only have to cover six, seven or eight yards.

“When the pitch is made big, sometimes you have to cover 20 to 25 yards to get to the next player.

“It’s more difficult for their players to retain the ball when they are so wide but they are good at doing it.

“I’m confident we will play a lot better than we did against Reading.

“There were far too many unforced errors – giving the ball away, kicking it out of play when it should have been a simple pass. We’ve had a chat about it.”