Preston North End manager Alex Neil content with a point from a 'scrappy' encounter with Blackburn Rovers

Preston North End manager Alex Neil felt his side's second-half performance was better than that in the first half in the derby draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 6:39 pm
Updated Saturday, 11th January 2020, 6:41 pm
Alan Browne, Scott Sinclair and Sean Maguire applaud the Preston fans at the final whistle at Blackburn

The Lilywhites made it seven games unbeaten against Rovers since 2016 with a 1-1 draw in the Ewood Park rain.

It was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, the home side going in front inside three minutes through Adam Armstrong who had intercepted a stray Tom Clarke pass.

Josh Harrop brought North End level in the 17th minute with a wonderful volley from the edge of the box.

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Preston manager Alex Neil and his Blackburn counterpart Tony Mowbray on the touchline at Ewood Park

Neil said: "In the first couple of phases of play we did alright but it is hard to say that when you concede a goal in the first few minutes.

"What we have done of late is make some poor decisions and it was a poor decision for the pass and then we have a chance to repair it which we don't do and Armstrong sticks it in the net.

"It was just reminiscent of the last couple of games really in terms of conceding the first goal early in the game.

"From that point you are always concerned because you need to rally away from home.

Preston striker Sean Maguire and Blackburn's Lewis Travis challenge on the floor

"I was pleased with the reaction after that, Josh's strike settled us down a little bit.

"We tried to tighten it up a bit, sat with two and one and didn't lock on to them like we usually do.

"For the first 15-20 minutes we did that okay, nicked the ball and Sean Maguire got in good areas a few times.

"From probably 20 minutes onwards we didn't get it right in the first half, we struggled to apply pressure on the ball and Blackburn dominated but without creating clear-cut chances.

"The main chance they created was when the referee blew for a foul, called Patrick Bauer towards him and then their lad sticks the ball down the side of us and he lets play go on.

"The first half was disappointing, at half-time I wasn't best pleased with what we were doing. That had been down to me trying to keep us in shape as much as anything.

"I changed it half-time, went more aggressive, locked Gally on to their midfield players.

"Then it became a 50/50 duel, can you get the better of your man type of thing.

"I thought second half we were better, albeit it was a scrappy game."

In the circumstances, Neil was pleased with a point which halted a run of three defeats, two of those in the league.

"The important thing for us was that we needed to get another point on the board after losing the last two home games," said Neil.

"We are a momentum-based team, we pick up a couple of points and tend to do well.

"This type of point is big for us. Hopefully this point will spur us on in the next few games.

"The last two home games in the league we've had 76 per cent possession and 65 per cent possession and lost twice.

"Today I went more pragmatic, made it more of an ugly game if you like.

"Sometimes I need to do it and won't make any apologies for that."