Alex Neil thinks PNE's draw with Sunderland was a fair result

PNE boss Alex Neil
PNE boss Alex Neil

Preston North End boss Alex Neil felt his side were far better in the second half than they had been in the first in their draw with Sunderland at Deepdale.

Neil watched the Lilywhites fall a goal behind in the first half, George Honeyman firing Sunderland ahead.

Darnell Fisher and Josh Harrop track Aiden McGeady

Darnell Fisher and Josh Harrop track Aiden McGeady

MATCH REPORT: PNE 2-2 Sunderland

But two goals in two minutes flipped the contest on its head early in the second period, Josh Harrop equalising with a free-kick which got a touch off visiting striker James Vaughan before Jordan Hugill found the net with a stunning volley.

However, the Black Cats quickly restored parity with a goal from former PNE loanee Aiden McGeady.

Neil said: "Was it a fair point? Probably.

Sunderland manager Simon Grayson

Sunderland manager Simon Grayson

"In the first half I thought we played pretty football and Sunderland played effective football which was disappointing.

"Although we moved the ball around and had some nice combinations, we didn't get behind them enough, didn't cause them enough problems.

"What was happening was when we lost the ball and they nicked it, because they were sat behind the game they then counter-attacked us and caused us issues.

"For our centre-backs it was probably as hard a game they've had this season, James Vaughan played really well against us.

"At half-time I told the lads they hadn't done the fundamentals well enough, they hadn't won enough tackles and second balls, or enough headers.

"When we started to do that, I thought we were the better side and scored two fantastic goals.

"We could have created more chances with the amount of balls we had around the edge of their area.

"Two things we had talked about were direct play and having to pick second balls up, and when we were attacking we had to look after the ball because Sunderland were set-up to counter-attack.

"The disappointing thing was that we took the lead at 2-1 and deservedly so at that point - if we had seen it out for five or 10 minutes, we would have gone on and won the game.

"We have young kids at the back and they will make errors.

"No disrepect to Aiden McGeady but he doesn't strike me as a tough-tackler but he came out on the right side of a tackle with a centre-back.

"That levelled the scoring."

Neil played a straight bat to questions over McGeady's celebration which saw him score at the Bill Shankly Kop end but run to celebrate in his own half nearer to the North End supporters in the Alan Kelly Town End.

"To be honest I didn't notice, I was too disappointed by conceding," said Neil.

"I saw him run somewhere but I was too busy thinking we should have won the tackle before hand.

"In football emotions run high, we were delighted when we we scored and they were delighted when they scored."

AS IT HAPPENED: PNE 2-2 Sunderland

MATCH REPORT: PNE 2-2 Sunderland

REACTION: Grayson defends McGeady's celebration