Preston North End boss Alex Neil highlights two moments which cost his side dearly at Barnsley

Alex Neil pinpointed two moments which proved so costly for Preston North End in their defeat to Barnsley at Oakwell.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 11:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 11:06 pm

The Lilywhites were beaten 2-1, conceding two second-half goals after Sean Maguire had given them a lead inside two minutes.

It was the first time this season they had lost a game from a winning position.

North End boss Neil was frustrated by the manner in which his side allowed Barnsley to score their 80th minute winner by allowing them to take a quick free-kick.

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Preston North End manager Alex Neil shows his frustration as Barnsley go 2-1 ahead at Oakwell

The other crucial incident for him had come on the stroke of half-time when Emil Riis got clear on goal but saw his shot saved - Daniel Johnson up in support and in a great position to take a pass which would have left him with a simple finish.

Neil said: "I didn't think there was anything in the game, both sides had three shots each.

"Our biggest frustration is that we take a 1-0 lead early in the game and then arguably have the best chance of the match - even taking their two goals into account.

"Our second opportunity just before half-time was the best of the match, wee were two versus one but didn't capitalise on it.

PNE substitute Joe Rafferty looks dejected at the final whistle at Barnsley

"In the first half I thought we did better than they did, in the second half we didn't start as brightly, we struggled to keep the ball alive at the top end of the pitch.

"Their first goal to be fair to them, was a very good goal. We had a lot of bodies back and might have got to the line of the ball a bit quicker but the lad bends it with his left foot from 25 yards and found the corner.

"Give credit where credit is due. After that at 1-1, Josh Earl had a good chance, a double bite at it.

"Then the second goal is my biggest frustration of the night.

"It is a free-kick to them, we don't stand over the ball, we don't kick it away, we leave the ball there - we get four players caught the wrong side of the ball.

"We actually had the ball but we threw it back to them so they can take a quick free-kick. They take it, we come scrambling out, they play past us and we don't narrow off.

"It was a good finish but was absolutely criminal from us.

"Looking at the game, there was nothing it it, I thought it was a bit scrappy, they turned it, we turned it.

"Barnsley are very good at pressing the ball, as are we, so both teams wanted to bypass that.

"We have lost a match which over the piece, probably deserved a draw."

The chance for Riis came in the 44th minute with North End a goal to the good.

Neil felt it would have been almost game over had the Dane stuck away the opportunity.

"You don't get very often many two versus one scenarios at this level," said Neil.

"We did great to get to that point but we needed to capitalise. That is the difference between winning games at this level and not.

"Had we scored right before half-time, Barnsley would have known they had a mountain to climb at that point.

"They would have had to throw more caution to the wind, leave more spaces for us to hurt them and it opens the game right up.

"Instead they came out knowing a 1-0 lead is a slender lead.

"I'm just frustrated. We had been on a good run until the last two games, we then go to Luton and were rubbish.

"I thought tonight you could see the effort was there.

"There were some good performances, I thought Andrew Hughes was excellent, Alan Browne ran himself into the ground, Josh Earl came in and did well having not played for so long.

"The effort and endeavour was there, we just didn't do the basics right to get across the line."

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