Alex Neil reveals his frustration at Preston North End’s failure to their chances

Preston midfielder Alan Browne is tackled by Cardiff's Jazz Richards
Preston midfielder Alan Browne is tackled by Cardiff's Jazz Richards

Alex Neil rued ‘that final bit’ being missing from Preston’s attacking play in the goalless draw at Cardiff.

The Lilywhites step into Christmas in fifth place and go to Leeds on Boxing Day having taken 38 points in the first-half of the season.

Matching that tally over the second half would certainly see them in and around the play-off places.

It should have been three points in Wales, PNE seeing a number of chances go begging in a contest they bossed.

Not only that, they got themselves into some strong attacking positions but picked the wrong ball.

North End manager Neil said: “It got a bit frustrating for everyone because we didn’t break the deadlock.

“That final pass, that little bit of detail was missing.

“Normally counter-attacks and transitions we are very good at, but it wasn’t quite there for some reason.

“Football is a strange thing in that you can play really well and not pick up many points or could be really direct, not focus on the finer parts of the game and get points.

“I can look at three really good away performances this season – Swansea, Nottingham Forest and now Cardiff – and we have got two points.

“We’ve been to other places, been rubbish and won.

“The be-all and end-all at this level is picking up points.

“We did our utmost to get three points at Cardiff in a pleasing manner, in terms of trying to play.

“Unfortunately we didn’t find that final bit.”

While North End came up short in an attacking sense, Neil was pleased with how his side defended.

They limited Cardiff to very few sights of goal, snuffing out threats from the wing and up front.

Said Neil: “I thought we did very well with the defending, we knew we had to keep the two wingers quiet.

“We had to shepherd Lee Tomlin to make sure he didn’t get enough space to get on the half turn and pick out passes.

“I thought Ben Pearson dealt with Tomlin great and the two full-backs got the better of their wide players.

“Tom Clarke came back in and did well. Tom is captain of his club and has been over the course.

“He’s an important part of the squad and I had no doubts or worries about putting him in at right-back.

“You look too at how well Paul Huntington has done since coming back in.

“These guys have just been waiting for an opportunity and I have to see an opening to get them back in.

“When they do get back in, it’s up to them to take their chance.”

North End’s visit to Elland Road on Boxing Day has a 5.15pm kick-off and is being shown live on Sky TV.