PNE's creativity in pre-season catches the eye of Alex Neil

Daniel Johnson takes on Burnely's Mason Goodridge
Daniel Johnson takes on Burnely's Mason Goodridge

Alex Neil has been encouraged with the number of chances Preston have created during their pre-season friendlies and hopes it is a sign of things to come this season.

PNE were beaten for the first time in their warm-up programme last night, losing 3-2 to Burnley at Deepdale.

PNE manager Alex Neil

PNE manager Alex Neil

However, the goals scored by Josh Harrop and Callum Robinson took North End’s tally in pre-season to 22.

While accepting 18 of those came at Bamber Bridge, AFC Fylde and Cobh Ramblers, Neil was pleased to have seen his side score two against both Burnley and West Ham.

In addition to the two which found the net last night, Preston carved-out a decent number of chances.

Neil said: “Something that was labelled against us at home last season was that we didn’t create enough chances and that we didn’t look enough of a threat.

PNE's Josh Harrop tussles with Jack Cork

PNE's Josh Harrop tussles with Jack Cork

“It is a case of getting the balance right and we have been working to do that.

“The team which played Burnley and the one we picked for the last game against West Ham was a conscious decision.

“We had five players out there against Burnley who are really attacking – there was Graham Burke, Josh Harrop, DJ, Callum Robinson and Sean Maguire.

“You wouldn’t describe their strengths as getting the ball back.

“We found it a little bit more difficult to get the ball back when we lost it but we looked more threatening when we had the ball.

“Whereas if you look at the team who played the last game, they got the ball back extremely well.”

Harrop shot North End in front in the 22nd minute, only for Aaron Lennon to equalise within four minutes.

Burnley went in front in the 72nd minute through Dan Agyei, there being another swift leveller when Robinson brought the scores level two minutes later.

Six minutes from time, Dwight McNeil struck a third goal for the Clarets.

Neil said: “We have looked at different combinations in pre-season.

“I think I have played all the centre-backs together at some stage and paired them with different full-backs.

“We have got the new lads integrated.

“You don’t want to lose any game but that isn’t the be all and end all of pre-season.

“If we had won this game 5-0, nobody would have cared a bit once the first game of the season started.

“Most of my experimenting has finished now, I have a good idea of where we are.”

Ben Pearson played an hour last night having been forced off against West Ham after getting a bang in the ribs.

Tom Barkhuizen is due back in training today after getting a knock on Saturday.