Alex Neil's big sense of relief after Preston North End's victory over Fulham ends losing run

Preston North End manager Alex Neil on the touchline during the 2-1 win over Fulham at Deepdale
Preston North End manager Alex Neil on the touchline during the 2-1 win over Fulham at Deepdale

Preston North End manager Alex Neil felt a huge sense of relief as the Lilywhites beat Fulham at Deepdale to end a four-game losing run.

Goals from Sean Maguire and David Nugent gave North End a 2-1 victory over the Cottagers, Aleksandar Mitrovic replying for Scott Parker's outfit.

Preston players celebrate David Nugent's goal against Fulham

Preston players celebrate David Nugent's goal against Fulham

Maguire opened the scoring in the 23rd minute before both sides went down to 10 men before half-time.

Fulham left-back Denis Odoi was the first to go for leading with his arm as he jumped into Patrick Bauer.

Then just before the interval PNE's Joe Rafferty went for an early bath for a high challenge on Joe Bryan.

Nugent made it 2-0 early in the second half before Mitrovic's late goal set up a big finish.

Neil said: "Relief, that is definitely the emotion. I think that always the emotion as a manager, you enjoy it for the first 10 seconds and then think we've got another one on Saturday.

"We needed that, there is nothing worse than when you go on a difficult run. The players were feeling it, I was feeling it because of the responsibility I have got.

"You want to win games for the fans, the club, the players.

"I thought we were great tonight. We were still missing a few players but the lads who were on the pitch worked extremely hard.

"Fulham are a good side, their players are worth fortunes and on fortunes, but to be honest we deserved to win the game.

"We had three or four golden opportunities to put the game to bed. We didn't take them which left us panicking and worrying towards the end.

"The referee played an extra minute over the six which had us panicking but we got across the line.

"We needed a win on the board for a bit of belief for everyone. But we are sitting sixth in the league and if anyone said that at the start of the season we would have snapped their hand off.

"It is just nice to get out of that rut, it has been difficult over the last four games."

Neil was delighted to see Nugent off the mark in his second spell with the club.

He handed the 34-year-old his first start since October and the striker produced a very good performance leading the line.

"I thought Nuge did far more than just get his goal," said Neil.

"He led the line well, his starting position was really good. He just didn't play up against the centre-back so when they were going forward he dropped in and nicked any loose balls.

"Physically I thought Nuge did well, he did great for his goal - he was really aggressive. He was a great foil for us."