Deepdale double-header offers Preston North End the chance to bounce back from the Reading defeat

Preston manager Alex Neil on the touchline at the Madejski Stadium
Preston manager Alex Neil on the touchline at the Madejski Stadium

Alex Neil is banking on a good response from Preston North End in the Deepdale double-header with Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers after seeing their unbeaten run ended in disappointing fashion at Reading.

PNE were beaten 1-0 at the Madjeski Stadium, the home side’s winner coming eight minutes into stoppage-time.

Alex Neil gives instructions to PNE midfielder Ben Pearson during the defeat at Reading

Alex Neil gives instructions to PNE midfielder Ben Pearson during the defeat at Reading

Neil’s men were below par throughout a poor game and suffered their first defeat in the Championship for two months.

The fixture list has offered up the opportunity of a quick response, North End hosting Leeds tomorrow night and then Blackburn on Saturday.

Neil said: “I’m not going to slag the players off, they have been great this season.

“They just didn’t perform well enough at Reading and my responsibility and job is to get them performing well.

“I didn’t do that at Reading so I’m disappointed with my part in it.

“We are an honest group and I’m not going to highlight or pinpoint individuals.

“I don’t think we prepped well enough for the game, I didn’t know how Reading were going to play because of the change of manager.

“That was taken by us into the performance and the lads didn’t play well enough.

“It was a scrappy game, a lot of turnover of possession. I’ve played in lots of those where it’s been rubbish.

“In those circumstances you hopefully get your point, get down the road and forget about it.

“We have to take it on the chin and hopefully play a lot better in the next two games.

“We will have to play a lot better if we want anything from them.”

North End looked to have done enough to bring home a point when Reading scored right at the death.

Matt Miazga’s volley went in despite keeper Declan Rudd getting his gloves to the ball.

Said Neil: “At half-time I told the lads I thought that we had been disappointing.

“The frustrating thing was that we probably got worse in the second half.

“Anyone who has seen us play this season will know it wasn’t a true reflection of how we have played so far.

“We lacked tempo and pace to our play, we over-hit crosses and set-plays, simple passing was being intercepted.”

Andrew Hughes returned to the side at left-back, with Joe Rafferty dropping to the bench.

Billy Bodin didn’t make the trip due to a recurrence of a calf strain, this a game they could have done with him.

Neil said: “Bill had to come off in the bounce game we had the other week.

“It’s minor, pretty much the same thing he had recently.

“Bill won’t be too long, he maybe will make it for the Leeds games, if not certainly for Saturday.”