Preston North End boss Alex Neil says change of strategy turned the derby against Blackburn Rovers in PNE's favour

Preston North End manager Alex Neil admitted he put pride to one side in changing his side's strategy in the 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 26th October 2019, 7:35 pm
Substitutes Brad Potts and David Nugent celebrate with Tom Barkhuizen after Preston's winning goal against Blackburn
Substitutes Brad Potts and David Nugent celebrate with Tom Barkhuizen after Preston's winning goal against Blackburn

The Lilywhites found themselves 2-0 behind to Rovers inside 11 minutes, with them out of sorts for the entire first half.

With less than half an hour gone he made a tactical substitution, bringing on Jayden Stockley for Paul Gallagher.

North End went more direct and once Stockley settled into the game, things swung in their favour.

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Preston manager Alex Neil with the fourth official at Deepdale

Tom Barkhuizen pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute, Daniel Johnson then equalising from the penalty spot - that his eighth goal of the season.

A dramatic finale saw Barkhuizen curl home a beauty of a winner in the 82nd minute to send the Preston supporters wild.

Neil said: "I thought you could see right from kick-off in the second half the intent to put it up to Jayden.

"People talk about tactics but strategy is more important than tactics to me. Our strategy of trying to play in the first half didn't work.

Jayden Stockley replaces Paul Gallagher less than half an hour into Preston's game against Blackburn

"Our strategy of putting the ball longer and working off the second ball, I would describe as a strategy more than a tactic.

"We just went one player on, one player off, went with more of a targetman and worked off him.

"All credit to Jayden and the rest of the lads, I thought second half it was a fantastic performance.

"I adopted one strategy which admittedly didn't work and I had to take my ego and pride, put it to one side and change it.

"Some teams talk about ethos's and philosophies, the simple fact is I'm here to win games.

"If we have to turn the ball and be more direct, the simple fact is I'm not precious enough not to do that. If that is required, I will go down that route.

"I don't want to take anything away from Blackburn in the first half, they were excellent and everything that we weren't.

"They were just better than us. We responded in the second half and what the game will be remembered for is us going on to win it."

Neil had made three changes to the starting XI, one of them enforced with Ben Davies missing his first Championship game of the season due to injury.

Andrew Hughes was his replacement and had an uncomfortable time at centre-half in the first half - in line with many of his team-mates.

"Ben Davies didn't make it, he had a fitness test in the morning and wasn't ready," said Neil.

"That was a bit of a blow because we hadn't done too much work with Andrew Hughes at centre-back on Friday.

"It was a bit difficult for him coming in.

"I put Paul Gallagher back in because at home he has been excellent for us. Then I dropped Brad Potts out because he hasn't played a lot of football.

"David Nugent had had a bit of juice on his knee this week so he was ready for a 30-minute cameo if needed.

"It was a case of freshening it up, we ran a lot against Leeds and we needed to go into this one with some freshness.

"You could argue it didn't work in the first half."