PNE boss says away points are a big confidence booster

Tom Barkhuizen
Tom Barkhuizen

Alex Neil believes Preston North End’s travelling supporters have seen a ‘truer reflection’ of the Lilywhites in the last two matches.

The weekend’s 1-1 draw with Neil’s old club Norwich followed-up a 2-1 victory over Bristol City last Tuesday.

After four defeats on the bounce and a goalless draw with Bolton, the upturn of the last few days is just what Neil was looking for.

“Four points from six is very good, I’m delighted with them,” said Neil.

“What tells you about the mindset of these lads is how disappointed they were about getting a draw at Norwich.

“We felt we were the better side and should have won the match.

“That is a great situation to be in, we have lads coming off the pitch thinking we should have done a bit more, we should have finished those opportunities we had. That is really healthy for us.

“It was always frustrating, disappointing and difficult to accept when we were being judged over that spell when we were missing so many players.

“I always said that when the players came back, people will see a truer reflection of what we are like.

“Norwich and Bristol City during last week was a truer reflection. I’m really pleased for the fans who went down.

“The Ipswich game was a hard one to take, I voiced my disappointment for the fans at that performance.

“So I’m really pleased that they have come away to two difficult venues and seen us get two good results.

“I think they should be proud of their team.”

North End came back from falling behind to a draw with the Canaries, just the third time this season they have done so.

James Maddison curled a free-kick over Chris Maxwell to give Norwich a 33rd minute lead, Tom Barkhuizen getting PNE’s equaliser in the second half from close range.

Alan Browne hit the bar in the first half with an overhead kick, while Barkhuizen had a one-on-one chance during stoppage-time which home keeper Angus Gunn blocked.

There were 15 minutes of added-on time played after an injury to one of the assistant referees.

In the 14th minute of that stoppage-time, Tom Clarke came off the bench to replace Paul Huntington who had gone down with cramp.

Said Neil: “It was very much precautionary that Paul was substituted.

“You can’t risk losing Paul because he has been such an influential figure for us.

“We had Tom Clarke to come on who was more than capable of putting his head on things and organising.”

Daniel Johnson got an early yellow card at Norwich and will be suspended for the home clash with QPR.