Preston North End manager Alex Neil frustrated by 'smash and grab' defeat against Reading at Deepdale

Preston manager Alex Neil during the defeat against Reading
Preston manager Alex Neil during the defeat against Reading

Preston North End manager Alex Neil felt his side had been on the end of a 'smash and grab' defeat by Reading at Deepdale.

The Lilywhites were beaten 2-0 in the final game of 2019, John Swift and Lucas Joao scoring in the first 16 minutes for the Royals.

Preston skipper Tom Clarke has a diving header saved against Reading

Preston skipper Tom Clarke has a diving header saved against Reading

After that PNE saw plenty of the ball and had chances to find a way back into the game but lacked a creative edge.

It was a fifth defeat on the bounce to Reading who are proving to be something of a bogey team for Neil's men.

Neil said: "The biggest difficulty we had was that we couldn't score.

"If you look at the game, look at the statistics, the way the game was played, it was a smash and grab wasn't it?

"Reading came here and they made themselves hard to beat.

"We had a chance to get the first goal, didn't take it, then we played two sloppy passes in the middle of the pitch and to be fair to Reading they were clinical.

"I thought we dominated the ball, dominated the game, had a lot of chances but goals changed games.

"The initial chance at 0-0 for Brad Potts was a good one. We then had four or five decent opportunities around the edge of the box but didn't hit the target.

"In the second half we had some really good opportunities."

Neil had made just two changes to the side which had drawn at Leeds, Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop coming in for Tom Barkhuizen who was on the bench and David Nugent who was ruled out with an eye injury.

He left Paul Gallagher on the bench until the hour mark before introducing the midfield playmaker.

Neil said: "Reading want to lock you on in the middle, that is the reason why I didn't start Paul Gallagher.

"They would have locked us on and stopped us playing so that is why I had two running 10s and the guys dripping in off the side.

"I thought it worked really well. We dominated the ball at that point.

"But at the end of the day if you don't look after the ball well in certain areas, teams will be set up to counter on you.

"I kept my back four and sitter in tact to make sure they didn't counter and we still got done twice which was really frustrating."