Paul Gallagher is a big fan of Preston North End manager Alex Neil's tactical approach

Preston skipper Paul Gallagher takes the free-kick which Sean Maguire followed-up to scored against Birmingham
Preston skipper Paul Gallagher takes the free-kick which Sean Maguire followed-up to scored against Birmingham

Paul Gallagher thinks Preston North End boss Alex Neil is up there with the best managers he has played for in terms of tactical preparation.

Gallagher’s role in the 1-0 win at Birmingham City included dropping wide into space left by PNE’s full-backs who were pushed high up the pitch.

PNE's Paul Gallagher challenges Birmingham midfielder David Davis

PNE's Paul Gallagher challenges Birmingham midfielder David Davis

The idea was for him and Ben Pearson to get on the ball early and allow North End’s wide players to push inside and join the attack.

Such an approach worked well in the first half as Preston got on top and netted the only goal in the 23rd minute.

In the second half it was more being resolute at the back and holding the hosts at arms’ length.

Gallagher said: “We’ve got a manager who is probably one of the best I have played for in terms of giving you tactics and also finding out weaknesses which you can use to hurt the opposition.

“It is then down to us to go out on to the pitch and put the plan into play.

"In the first half we did that, we got in behind them a few times. t is a joy to play in this team, we have a strong squad and the mentality is right.”

Gallagher, 35, enjoyed the job of dropping deep to help Preston build play.

“We went with a game plan that myself and Ben would drop out either side of the centre-halves,” said Gallagher.

“Doing that we could try and create bigger spaces in the centre to get Josh Harrop and Sean Maguire creeping in off the line.

“I think it worked really well, especially in the first half. In the second half, they got on top of us a bit more so we had to turn it.

“But when you have the pace of Tom Barkhuizen who can run in behind, it helps.”

Gallagher played a big part in PNE’s winner, it being his free-kick from the edge of the ‘D’ which hit the post and spun across the six-yard box for Maguire to score.

The Irishman has already matched his tally of goals from last season.

Said Gallagher: “I hit the free-kick and the keeper might have touched it on to the post. Thankfully as good strikers do, Sean followed-up to tuck it away nicely.

“I thought we deserved the goal . In the second half we had to defend the box more and did that really well.”