Preston North End manager Alex Neil pleased with victory against Coventry but frustrated with some aspects of the display

Preston North End manager Alex Neil was pleased to see his side beat Coventry City but admitted there were parts of their game which needed to be better.

Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 11:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 11:14 pm

The Lilywhites' 2-0 victory over the Sky Blues came courtesy of goals from Daniel Johnson and Sean Maguire in either half.

Neil's men played second fiddle to the visitors in terms of possession and play in the opening 45 minutes but still led through Johnson's 18th minute strike.

It was a better display - although not perfect by any means - after the interval, Maguire's goal eight minutes into the second half settling them down and giving PNE the cushion they needed.

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Preston North End manager Alex Neil during the victory over Coventry City at Deepdale

Their third victory in a row, all without conceding a goal, moved them up to 11th place in the Championship table.

Neil said: "The last three performances have been defensively strong, we have been solid at the back and conceded less opportunities.

"Tonight I was frustrated in the first half because very few teams come here and control the ball. We set up the same way as Coventry and they just did it better than us in the first half.

"We still had a threat, we managed to nick the ball on the edge of the box and it was a good finish from DJ to stick it away.

Sean Maguire scores PNE's second goal

"To be honest, throughout the game I didn't ever feel like we were going to lose at any point, defensively we were solid.

"Once the second goal went in, they had to chance it a little bit with two up top and that helped us even more."

Neil pointed to a change of approach in terms of North End's pressing, thinking a less 'aggressive' stance was needed.

"In the past we have hunted really aggressively and that sometimes worked against us," said Neil.

"When you get the first goal relatively early in the game you are reluctant to be really aggressive in terms of trying to get after them because you don't need to.

"Sometimes it is better them coming on to you and leaving themselves a little bit exposed so we can counter.

"The most important thing is finding a way to win the match and credit to the lads they did that.

"We defended well and when the opportunities came our way we were dangerous.

"I thought Tom Barkhuizen did really well up front, Sean Maguire was excellent too. They gave us a good platform, especially at the start of the second half.

"There were aspects of the game which we could certainly have done a lot better but we have won the game and that is three wins on the bounce, three clean sheets on the bounce.

"To be fair to Coventry they moved the ball very well and caused us some issues but only issues in terms of territory and possession, less so chances."

North End were without Scott Sinclair against Coventry, the winger having limped out of the Boxing Day win at Derby with a hamstring strain.

Neil thinks Sinclair's absence won't be a lengthy one.

"Scott won't be far away from the games coming up, it is not a significant injury," said Neil.

" We just need to keep an eye on him for the next few days and see how he goes."

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