Ben Pearson’s bans means opportunity knocks says PNE boss Alex Neil

Ben Pearson challenges Hull striker Nouha Dicko
Ben Pearson challenges Hull striker Nouha Dicko

Alex Neil is looking for other players to ‘step up to the mark’ and cover the absence of Ben Pearson for Preston’s next two matches.

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The midfielder collected his 10th caution of the season in the 2-1 win over Hull City, triggering a two-game ban.

His absence will be blow for the visit to Brentford and then the Deepdale clash with runaway leaders Wolves.

But the enforced rest does afford Pearson the chance to recover from an injury which forced his substitution in the 75th minute against Hull.

PNE boss Neil said: “Ben’s got a hip flexor problem which has been a problem for the last week or so.

“We knew he was only one booking away from a ban and we were hoping he would get through the next couple of games without picking up that booking.

“Unfortunately the ball broke on the wrong side of him and he had to make the tackle to prevent an attack.

“I can’t be too harsh on him because having played in that position myself for many years, I know it was a tackle which had to be made.

“If Hull had gone on to score from that move, it would have cost us two crucial points.

“We know how big a miss Ben is going to be for us but it gives other guys a chance.

“They need to step up to the mark, that is where we are at.”

North End hit back from falling behind to beat Hull, the victory completing a league double over the Tigers after a win on Humberside by the same scoreline in September.

Jarrod Bowen put Hull in front, his shot catching the boot of Greg Cunningham to take it past Declan Rudd.

Cunningham connected with a Paul Gallagher corner to head PNE level, with Alan Browne netting the winner from the penalty spot.

It was a challenge on Billy Bodin by Fraizer Campbell which led to the penalty, Hull furious with the decision from referee Stephen Martin.

Neil said: “I’ve watched it back and it was a penalty.

“My immediate reaction if I’m being honest was that I wasn’t sure.

“We saw the Hull staff give the referee a hard time at half-time, so we had a look at it to see if it was merited.

“Their lad comes rushing across Billy, it was good feet from Billy to shift it down the side of him and he has clearly taken him out.”

Neil was pleased to see Cunningham on target for the first time in 13 months.

The Irishman was back in the side after being rested for the last two games.

Said Neil “Greg is a solid player. With the magnitude of the game and what was at stake, I felt Greg’s experience would be crucial.

“Josh Earl had played back-to-back games and done great but this was the ideal one for Greg to come in.”