Preston North End boss Alex Neil pleased to finish pre-season with a win against Newcastle United

Preston manager Alex Neil during the pre-season friendly against Newcastle
Preston manager Alex Neil during the pre-season friendly against Newcastle

Preston North End manager Alex Neil was pleased to see his side end their pre-season friendly campaign on a winning note against Newcastle United.

Two penalties from Paul Gallagher in the second half gave North End a 2-1 victory after Jonjo Shelvey had given the Magpies a 39th minute lead with a free-kick.

Preston midfielder Paul Gallagher and Newcastle's Miguel Almiron at Deepdale

Preston midfielder Paul Gallagher and Newcastle's Miguel Almiron at Deepdale

Neil said: "It is always nice to end on a win, we dug in and made it difficult for Newcastle.

"Our best chances probably came from set plays in the main so we still need to do a bit of work on our final third play in terms of getting into good areas, putting dangerous crosses across the box and getting into shooting positions.

"But I thought our shape was excellent, we squeezed the ball well, it was certainly a massive improvement on the Southampton game which was nice.

"We had been working very hard on that since that one and this will have given us a shot in the arm in terms of confidence."

The turning point of the game proved to be a penalty save from Declan Rudd in the first minute of the second half.

His save from Migi Almiron after Patrick Bauer had brought down Newcastle's record £40m buy Joelinton made up for a mistake in letting in Shelvey's opener.

Neil said: "When they got the penalty I was fearing the worse, Ben Davies slipped because of the conditions which presented them with the opportunity to go 2-0 ahead.

"But Declan saved it which was the turning point in the game.

"After that Newcastle didn't create too many opportunities, I thought the back four were excellent.

"The penalty save made up for the first goal, he dives and it hits his thumb and ends up in the back of the net. Declan said the ball moved in the air.

"Listen, he'll be disappointed with that, all you can do is try and make up later and he goes and saves the penalty."

The game was played in heavy rain, making conditions difficult as the afternoon went on.

Neil said: "I don't think our pitch has held as much water as I have today, normally it drains really well.

"The conditions for the last couple of weeks have been strange with the heat so this was a different test."