Preston North End boss Alex Neil on victory at Stoke: We found a way to win

Preston North End manager Alex Neil admitted his side's win at Stoke City was a case of getting the job done rather than by playing flowing football.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:15 pm
Preston manager Alex Neil during PNE's 2-0 win at Stoke

For the second season running the Lilywhites came away from the bet365 Stadium with a 2-0 win, Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen on target in the second half.

They had played second fiddle to the Potters for the first 45 minutes but the introduction of David Nugent as a substitute early in the second half saw PNE change their approach and find a way to win.

Neil said: "I'm happy in the fact we won the game but we didn't play nearly as well as we can.

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Daniel Johnson and Darnell Fisher at the final whistle of PNE's 2-0 win at Stoke

"I thought Stoke were very well organised in the first half and they are very good at capitalising on your mistakes.

"They drop into a deep block and if you don't move the ball quick enough and well enough you can find it really difficult to play through them.

"Stoke set traps in that they let us work it central and then nick it.

"In the first half they looked the more dangerous team, we didn't get into good enough areas often enough and when we did our passing let us down.

Preston defender Patrick Bauer gets up high to win a header against Stoke

"At half-time I was pleased it was 0-0.

"I said to the players we have been here many times before in not playing well but had not conceded and we would only get better in the second half.

"I changed things slightly in terms of strategy, we stopped playing, put the ball forward to David Nugent and tried to bypass the press.

"We did that really well and got the first goal off a set play.

"I'm not going to make any apologies for that. If you look at Stoke, they play a defensive set up by making it compact and capitalising on your mistakes.

"We had to try and find a solution to overcome that, I thought we did it, we showed different strengths than we normally do.

"People normally talk about our press and how we counter really well.

"Tonight we showed great resolve, great grit, did the basics really well - the ugly side.

"We fought for everything and it was a great three points."

Victory kept North End in sixth spot and they are now only three points behind Leeds in second spot.

The win was Neil's men third on the bounce on their travels, with them unbeaten in six away since early December.

Neil said: "Everybody wants to play well but that was certainly one of our poorest performances for quite a while.

"But we got the job done and at the moment it is about points.

"We are in that space now where we are three points off second, we just needed to get across the line."