First away win of season is Preston North End boss Alex Neil’s target at Birmingham City

Ben Pearson will return for Preston against Birmingham after illness
Ben Pearson will return for Preston against Birmingham after illness

Alex Neil wants Preston to turn some promising displays on the road into three points at Birmingham tomorrow.

The Lilywhites have taken just one point from their three Championship away games this season.

That was the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest on August 31, a game they dominated in the first half before conceding a late equaliser.

At Swansea City a fortnight earlier, Neil’s men took the lead early and went on to boss the first period.

But in stoppage time at the end of the first half they were pegged back by the Welsh side who went on to win 3-2.

At Millwall on the opening day, PNE had plenty of the ball but were blunt going forward.

North End boss Neil thinks that if his side can extend the form shown in the first half against Forest and Swansea over the course of the game, an away win will not be far off.

Neil said: “Our results at home have been excellent and we have played well.

“I would argue a couple of our best performances have been on the road.

“We have probably played very well in the first half and maybe not been expansive enough or imposed ourselves enough in the second half.

“That is something we are looking to address because we want to get our first away win in the league under our belt.

“We’d like to do it against a Birmingham side who are very close to us in the league.”

Neil believes the fact PNE have tailed off slightly in the second half on their travels is more down to the opposition.

And it is up to his players to cope with what is thrown at them and being braver when they have the ball.

Said Neil: “Look at it this way, if we were the home team and had been dominated, our fans would fully expect us to come out fighting. That is what teams have done to us. When we have gone to Forest and Swansea, we have dominated for 45 minutes, both in terms of possession and chances.

“You’ve got to expect teams to come out for the second half and get against you.

“It’s about matching that physical battle, then getting the ball down and being brave in possession, risk it at times even if you are leading.

“If we don’t do that, we are going to see more second halves like we’ve already have.”

Neil will have Ben Pearson available after the midfielder missed last week’s win over Brentford because of a virus.

Andrew Hughes comes back into contention having played an hour of PNE’s win at Chorley in the Lancashire Senior Cup.

North End have sold more than 1,300 tickets for the trip to St Andrew’s and fans have until 5pm today to buy if they want to travel.

There will be no sales on the day.