Preston boss pleased to see Maguire bag first league goal

Sean Maguire is congratulated by Jordan Hull and Stephy Mavididi after scoring against Barnsley
Sean Maguire is congratulated by Jordan Hull and Stephy Mavididi after scoring against Barnsley

Alex Neil felt a first goal in Preston colours for Sean Maguire was a fitting reward for his efforts since arriving at Deepdale.

The former Cork striker headed PNE in front against Barnsley, only for the Tykes to cancel it out with an equaliser within two minutes – the first league goal conceded in open play this season.

Maguire bagged more than 20 goals in Ireland before his July move, hence there being a level of expectancy on his shoulders.

North End manager Neil said: “It was good for Sean to score, his performances up until this point had merited a goal.

“I thought it was a really well worked goal.

“We worked the ball wide, Tom Barkhuizen shifted it past the full-back and clipped a great ball into the middle.

“Sean timed his arrival in the box late and it was a great header into the far corner.

“We’d had a good chance a few minutes before it when Sean got to the byline and cut it back for Jordan Hugill.

“At this level we have to do better with opportunities.

“We had other chances in the game, Paul Huntington saw a header blocked on the line by his own player.

“Then right at the end, Sean had a great opportunity which the keeper made a great save from.”

Neil felt North End looked the more likely winners before having to settle for a 1-1 draw.

“We had the better chances in the game, we looked more likely to win it,” said Neil.

“I didn’t think we were dominant throughout the 90 minutes by any means, but we had spells of the game when we were on top.”

Neil was without Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson for the clash, the midfield pair missing through injury.

Johnson was hurt during training in the international break, with Pearson suffering a reaction to the deadleg he got at Middlesbrough last month.

Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne filled the midfield roles, John Welsh coming off the bench later in the game for his first appearance in 11 months.

Neil said: “You have to bear in mind that we had Tom Clarke, Greg Cunningham, Ben Pearson and DJ all out.

“We have got a lot of kids on doing unbelievable well.

“John Welsh hadn’t played for nearly a year but he came on to help us see the game out.

“Gally hasn’t played a lot this season but he got through most of the game.

“You’ve got to give the boys on the pitch a lot of credit.”

Neil said he was ‘hopeful’ of getting one of his two injured midfielders back in time to face Cardiff tomorrow night.

“Hopeful neither will be long term but how long is a piece of string?” said Neil.

“I’m hopeful of getting one back for Cardiff, we’ll see.”