Alex Neil explains why two-man attack does not work for Preston North End

Jayden Stockley wrestles with Tendayi Darikwa during his appearance off the bench against Nottingham Forest
Jayden Stockley wrestles with Tendayi Darikwa during his appearance off the bench against Nottingham Forest

It looks like Alex Neil’s experiment of playing two up front will be a short-lived one.

The Preston North End boss shifted systems and personnel with regularity during the 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest in a bid to find a breakthrough.

Little worked for the Lilywhites’ manager though, as the two sides played out a forgettable game at Deepdale on Saturday.

One of Neil’s tactical switches saw Jayden Stockley replace Paul Gallagher at the break.

The former Exeter City man linked up with Sean Maguire in a two-man attack as North End played a somewhat unfamiliar diamond midfield.

Neil explained he made the move as much to shore things up defensively as to give a stubborn Forest side something else to think about.

“People talk about playing two up front and saying you’ll score more goals if you do,” said the PNE boss when explaining his thinking.

“I totally disagree. We kept the ball up front more in the first half when we had one up there than we did in the 
second with two up front.

“You need to put the ball up there with quality, you need to move the ball well. I didn’t want to lose the game, the lads looked a bit empty in terms of being tired.

“I thought that if we opened the game up a lot, because of Forest’s defensive structure and our lack of players who could play between the lines, it wasn’t a game to suit us.

“That is why I changed it, we turned the ball more and had two lads up there.”

For the trip to Millwall on Saturday the Lilywhites will likely revert to a more 
familiar 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 system.

During their seven-game unbeaten run in the Championship, Stockley or Maguire have led the line.

The Irishman has also played in a wide position with Alan Browne, Brad Potts and Tom Barkhuizen playing key roles in the final third, with Neil championing how his fluid frontline have performed.

That has especially been the case on the road with North End looking to make it four straight Championship away wins at The Den.

Elsewhere, PNE have been handed an initial allocation of 602 tickets for the trip to 
Middlesbrough next 
month.

The Lilywhites head to the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday, March 13.

Tickets priced at £30 for adults, £20 for over 65s and 
£17 for under-18s went on sale 
yesterday.