Alex Neil salutes Preston North End for going 'toe-to-toe' with Leeds United at Deepdale

Preston manager Alex Neil with his Leeds counterpart Marcelo Bielsa
Preston manager Alex Neil with his Leeds counterpart Marcelo Bielsa

Preston North End manager Alex Neil gave his players a big pat on the back for their performance in the 1-1 draw with Leeds United at Deepdale.

Neil was pleased to see his team go 'toe-to-toe' with Marcelo Bielsa's side, his only disappointment being that they couldn't hold on to the lead given to them by Tom Barkhuizen in the 74th minute.

Tom Barkhuizen turns to celebrate after giving Preston the lead

Tom Barkhuizen turns to celebrate after giving Preston the lead

Eddie Nketiah headed the Yorkshire outfit level in the 87th minute, that coming in a second phase of play after the PNE wall had blocked a free-kick.

Neil said: "I thought it was a really hard fought match, tactically it was one of those games where both sides were trying to nullify each other.

"I know Leeds' strength and I I don't think there are many teams who will go to-to-toe with them in terms of trying to get up against them and play against them.

"I have watched them six or seven times this season and every time they have been better than the opposition, whether they have won or drawn.

PNE manager Alex Neil sprints to the dressing room at half-time against Leeds

PNE manager Alex Neil sprints to the dressing room at half-time against Leeds

"They have been really dominant against other teams.

"So for our lads to do what they did tonight, put that amount of effort into it, was pleasing.

"We had some good chances at times, they had some good chances, I thought it was a tight game and not a lot in it.

"I thought our lads did great."

Preston centre-half Patrick Bauer ends up in the net after Leeds score their equaliser

Preston centre-half Patrick Bauer ends up in the net after Leeds score their equaliser

Neil praised his side's tactical discipline and felt they deserved much credit for that.

"The big thing for us was that you need to be really brave to play that way against Leeds," said Neil.

"If you really go after them, get up against them and leave spaces for them to exploit, you need to do it in a really organised manner, you need to understand what your roles are and the lads have to carry it out on point.

"If you don't do that, Leeds will pick you off and hurt you. I thought we carried it out great.

Preston right-back Darnell Fisher takes on Leeds' Jack Harrison

Preston right-back Darnell Fisher takes on Leeds' Jack Harrison

"Both teams left their striker available, both tried to drip it in and build off it.

"When fans come to watch a game, sometimes they like to see one team dominant and then the other team dominant.

"I didn't think either side were dominant for any length of time. There were wee spells when we looked threatening.

"We came up against a great coach which I really enjoyed as well. I thought our lads did us proud."

Barkhuizen finished off a counter-attack involving Alan Browne and substitute Sean Maguire for PNE's opener.

It was a lead they held for 13 minutes before Leeds forced the equaliser.

Neil said: "Was it tinged with disappointment? 100% yes. Any team who takes the lead in any game will be disappointed not to win.

"We didn't defend a set piece well enough and that has taken two points off us.

"I didn't think we needed as many players in the wall. Once the first ball is hit and the second phase happens and I think it went to a third phase, we have committed so many players in the wall that we were short at the back post when he does hang it up.

"It was a great leap from the boy Nketiah, he got up really early and really high, it was just one of those loopy ones when you are hoping it doesn't drop in.

"Yes I'm disappointed we didn't win the game. Did we deserve to win it? It is a hard one, the only way we deserved to win was that we got our noses in front, not the fact we were dominant."