Championship play-off final a tough one to call says Preston North End manager Alex Neil

Preston North End boss Alex Neil thinks today's Championship play-off final between Aston Villa and Derby County is such a tough one to call.

Monday, 27th May 2019, 12:08 am
Updated Monday, 27th May 2019, 1:08 am
Alex Neil with Derby manager Frank Lampard at Deepdale in February

Neil, who was a play-off winner with Norwich City four years ago, says it will come down to who holds their nerve in the Wembley showdown.

Derby lost their home leg of the semi-final 1-0 to Leeds and then went behind in the second leg at Elland Road.

But they produced a stunning fightback to win 4-2 on the night.

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PNE boss Alex Neil with Aston Villa counterpart Dean Smith

Villa needed penalties to see them through at the expense of West Bromwich Albion, winning the first leg 2-1 at home but losing 1-0 in the return at the Hawthorns.

Neil said: "When you look back at Derby's second leg at Leeds, the blunder from the Leeds goalkeeper completely changed the flow of the game.

"That got them back in the game and changed the dynamics.

"You could see the panic in Leeds, they thought they needed to get another goal and left themselves exposed.

"Derby picked them off when really it should have been the other way round had Leeds not conceded.

"Villa didn't look like scoring in their second leg at West Brom and had Dwight Gayle not been sent-off in the first game and been suspended, he would have caused them problems.

"West Brom took their forward players off before the penalties and had four defenders taking penalties.

"In the final it will be down to who holds their nerve on the day.

"The year Norwich went up when I was there, Middlesbrough beat Norwich 5-0 on aggregate over the course of the season.

"They won 4-0 at their place before I was there and then 1-0 at Norwich.

"But at Wembley Norwich won 2-0 quite comfortably."