Preston North End boss Alex Neil aims to follow-up two away draws with a Deepdale victory over Reading

Alex Neil wants to see Preston North End follow-up two encouraging performances on the road with an overdue victory against Reading at Deepdale tomorrow.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 28th December 2019, 6:00 am
Preston skipper Tom Clarke will be looking to hold on to the right-back position against Reading on Sunday
Preston skipper Tom Clarke will be looking to hold on to the right-back position against Reading on Sunday

Lilywhites manager Neil saw his side bring back a point apiece from the trips to Cardiff and Leeds, both games arguably they could have won.

Now they host Reading in a Sunday clash (3pm), a team they have lost their last four meetings with.

That run against the Royals is one Neil is anxious to halt in its tracks.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Preston centre-half Ben Davies challenges Leeds striker Eddie Nketiah at Elland Road

Neil said: “For some reason we don’t have a good record against Reading, so that is something I would like to put right.

“This season at their place there was nothing in the game but late on they got a set piece, a deflection falls for them and they scored.

“Last season against them here, we had the highest number of shots in a game since I’ve been here.

“We had something like 28 shots but lost 3-2.

Tom Clarke and Paul Huntington have both returned to the Preston defence recently

“Reading are a bit of a mixed bag, they have changed shape a few times.

“I went to watch them at Barnsley the other week and they didn’t play particularly well that night.

“They had a great result the other night against QPR on Boxing Day.”

North End are four games unbeaten, the draws at Cardiff and Leeds coming on the tail of wins over Fulham and Luton.

They head into tomorrow’s game in sixth place, level on points with Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham, and just a point behind Brentford in third place.

As Neil points out, had they held out that few minutes longer at Leeds, PNE would be in third spot.

“The biggest frustration was that we should have beaten Cardiff, we were head and shoulders above them on the day,” said Neil.

“At Leeds we played very well, counter-attacked well and it took a deflected shot to deny us a win.

“If someone had spanked one in from 25 yards or there been some nice interlink play, you could have accepted it.

“The fact there was a big deflection leaves a bit of a bad taste. Although Leeds had a lot of pressure, I thought we coped with it very well.”

Joe Rafferty and Darnell Fisher will be back in the squad tomorrow after serving suspensions.

Whether they will displace Tom Clarke at right-back remains to be seen, the club captain having filled in well there for the last two games.

Ben Davies’ return at Leeds after a month out with an ankle injury was timely, Patrick Bauer having gone down with a virus.

Davies teamed-up well with Paul Huntington at the heart of the defence and will do again if Bauer isn’t fit.