Preston North End centre-backs Paul Huntington and Patrick Bauer praised by PNE manager Alex Neil
Preston North End manager Alex Neil has applauded Paul Huntington and Patrick Bauer for their handling of Aleksandar Mitrovic in the Deepdale win over Fulham.
Bauer and Huntington were paired together for the first time at the heart of the back four.
They helped limit Fulham to one shot on target, that Mitrovic’s late goal which got a deflection off Ben Pearson on the way in.
Huntington came into the side for the West Brom game a week last Monday, that his first Championship start in 11 months.
Bauer had missed the last two matches with a thigh injury but was fit enough to resume against Fulham.
Neil said: “I thought Hunts and Pat were excellent.
“The reason I picked those two was because I thought they were perfectly suited to deal with Mitrovic.
“He is someone who is big, strong, physical, likes to take the ball in and flick things on.
“I put Hunts and Pat in to try and beat him up and I thought they did that.”
Huntington got the man of the match award from Sky Sports.
After being interviewed on the pitch by the broadcaster at the final whistle, he was serenaded down the tunnel by fans in the Alan Kelly Town End who sang the ‘Cumbrian Cannavaro’ song.
His pairing with Bauer meant Jordan Storey dropped out of the team after three starts in a row.
And Storey missed out on a place in the matchday squad completely, with club captain Tom Clarke the defensive cover on the bench.
Neil said: “Jordan was really unfortunate. When I pick my team I pick the one which I think gives us the best chance to win a game.
“Then with the subs, I pick the guys who I think can cover all the positions.
“I was glad I picked who I did because later in the game I had to move Alan Browne back into the middle and bring Tom Clarke in to play at right-back.
“If Jordan had been on the bench, Tom wouldn’t have been there to go on. I will give myself a pat on the back.”
Victory over the Cottagers ended a run of four defeats and Neil hopes North End can push on from it.
He knows that emptying the treatment room will play a big part in piecing together another good run of results.
Ben Davies, Paul Gallagher Daniel Johnson and Darnell Fisher were missing from the squad on Tuesday night.
Neil said: “We have built an expectation this season and naturally the defeats we’ve had made us feel sore.
“All I will say it please be patient with us because we have found it difficult with a lot of players missing.
“I don’t think the balance is quite right yet.”