Preston North End got ‘nasty’ to help them secure a welcome derby victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park
Alex Neil was pleased with how Preston showed their ‘nasty’ side in the derby win over Blackburn.
PNE dug deep at Ewood Park after Daniel Johnson put them in front early on, seeing the game out to record a fifth successive away victory and stretching their unbeaten run to 10 games.
They played the last four minutes of stoppage-time with 10 men after a red card for Darnell Fisher.
He was sent-off for two late bookings and is suspended for the trip to Middlesbrough on Wednesday night.
Neil said: “It was a hard game, it certainly wasn’t easy.
“Blackburn will have gone away thinking they played well and I would agree with that.
“They didn’t really hurt us though, our defensive shape was great.
“We did the nasty side of the game well – made a tackle when we had to , won headers, we were disciplined.
“When we scored we had been playing right on top of them.
“We knew we needed to win the game, if it had been 0-0 we wouldn’t have sat back in the way we did.
“The way the game panned out allowed us to play in that manner.
“I’m really pleased for the lads, we had three key players out in Ben Pearson, Brad Potts and Tom Barkhuizen.
“Then there’s also Callum Robinson, Louis Moult, Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop who have been missing.
“To do what we have done with these lads missing, speaks volumes for the other players.”
North End went up to ninth place after beating Rovers but slipped back to 10th yesterday when Aston Villa won 1-0 at Birmingham.
Assessing further the win on Saturday, Neil felt it showed the need for having different strings to their bow in terms of how to win a game.
“We’ve won games against other teams who play in a much different way to how Blackburn did,” said Neil.
“Their 3-4-3 system is a very difficult one to stop, they play it to make sure that there is always a spare player.
“We lock on to most teams but we couldn’t do that here.
“What we could do though, was to shuffle into our shape, keep solid and hit them on the counter-attack.”
Neil hopes to have Potts back soon, possibly as soon as the Middlesbrough game.
The midfielder missed his first game since signing from Barnsley in January and sat in the away end with Preston’s 7,514 travelling fans.
Said Neil: “We are hoping Pottsy will be available and we will take stock of where we are with Tom Barkhuizen.
“Pottsy’s was a knee contact injury and Barky’s issue is down the outside of his knee.
“On Friday Pottsy trained but he wasn’t quite ready.”