Alex Neil disappointed with Preston North End in possession in Middlesbrough defeat

Alex Neil during Preston North End's 2-0 defat to Middlesbrough.
Alex Neil during Preston North End's 2-0 defat to Middlesbrough.

Alex Neil was disappointed with Preston North End's use of the ball as they fell to a 2-0 defeat against Middlesbrough.

Preston were beaten thanks to goals from Rudy Gestede, who made his first Boro start in a year, and a Ben Davies own goal.

North End were condemned to their second home defeat in as many games, just three days apart and Neil saw similarities between the two contests.

Against Reading, PNE were equally as toothless as they were this afternoon, barely having a shot to worry the opposition 'keeper, which was the biggest frustration for the Preston boss.

He said: "Naturally I’m disappointed, we’ve lost the game. The biggest disappointment was the amount of turnovers, we gave the ball away far too often.

"We did it against Reading as well. They started a bit brighter and got a few snapshots off around the edge of the box.

"We found a way into the game after about 15 or 20 minutes, we start to get on top.

"Gally has two or three efforts and opportunities on the edge of their box, Tom Barkhuizen gets in down the right-hand side, Hughesy gets to the byline a couple of times, we don’t really put great crosses in. We had a few corners, had pressure, started to dominate the ball a bit better.

"Then we give a free kick away over on the left side, on one of the rare occasions they come forward in those 10, 15 minutes and we just don’t defend our box as well as we normally do.

"Like Reading, that then causes us an issue. They can then sit in their shape, soak up the pressure and hit us on the counter. The amount of times we get into good areas but that final pass or touch bounces off us and they counter. We couldn’t find a solution at that point."

"We didn’t get many efforts where you think we should have scored, there were a couple of snapshots.

"We’ve got momentum in the game, there is one goal kick, flick on.

"I’m not quite sure what happens with Ben, it gets caught under his feet and there’s a mix up between him and Declan and it ends up in the back of the net.

"At that point, we really have to throw caution to the wind to try and get back into the game."

Patrick Bauer was restored to the PNE starting XI today, having missed recent games with a virus, but it seemed like Neil conceded that the decision to bring the German, who has been brilliant at the heart of the defence this season, back in was premature.

"Big Pat’s come back in, the difficulty I had with Patrick is that he’s been training for the past four or five days, so it’s not like he’s been sitting in his bed with flu," Neil explained.

"We were talking to him about whether he was ready for the game or not, to be fair, I was saying to him if you’re ready let’s get going and get you back in.

"So that was my decision to put him back in, obviously having to take him off at half time suggest he wasn’t quite right.

"For the goal, that’s very unlike him in terms of not winning that header clean. His body shape wasn’t quite right and we don’t clear our lines and it ends up in our net."