Homework was a big part of PNE's win at Bristol City says Alex Neil

Alex Neil in the Ashton Gate technical area
Alex Neil in the Ashton Gate technical area

Preston North End boss Alex Neil revealed that a study of Bristol City's past line-ups helped influence his tactics in Tuesday night's victory at Ashton Gate.

Neil switched to a 4-4-2 formation for the clash with the Robins and didn't employ a high pressing game as has been the case for most of the season.

Paul Gallagher shoots PNE ahead against Bristol City

Paul Gallagher shoots PNE ahead against Bristol City

In particular, City's 2-1 win over Cardiff earlier in the month caught his eye from a tactical point of view.

Neil said: "I looked at the team sheets from the games Bristol City had played.

"We knew that Milan Djuric had played against Cardiff, and that Cardiff are a high pressing team who want to hunt.

"What Bristol City wanted in that game was an outlet to bypass the press and then play off the front.

"I decided not to use the high press because that is what they expected from us.

"When the big fella Djuric started, I knew that was perfect for us.

"We sat deep and when they hit the ball, we had plenty of bodies to mop up.

"Then we could go and hit them on the counter-attack.

"We narrowed the pitch off, meaning they had to play down the outside of us rather than through us because they played with a front two."

Neil had commented before the game that he saw similarities between North End and Bristol City, and he held the same view after the final whistle.

The Scotsman said: "The similarities were something we had spoken about.

"I know Lee Johnson has admiration for our energy in the middle of the pitch, equally they put their energetic players in the middle to try and counteract that.

"Both teams have got big lads who are targets, they have good pace on the flanks and good quality players in the middle of the pitch."