Preston North End’s powers of recovery about to be put to test

Preston manager Alex Neil
Preston manager Alex Neil

As Preston look to keep their recovery going over the next few weeks, Alex Neil will take solace from how his side bounced back off the canvas last season.

The Lilywhites head east to Hull City this weekend, having taken four points from the last two games.

A win and a draw is not cause to hang the bunting out just yet but in the context of the season so far, it is progress.

The 3-3 draw against Aston Villa a fortnight ago halted a run of four league defeats.

That was backed up with the 4-0 win over Wigan, a first Championship win for Neil’s men since the opening day of the campaign.

Neil came through a rocky patch in his stewardship last autumn, although that came after North End had made a strong start to the season.

Between October 21 and November 4 last year, PNE lost to Wolves, Brentford, Villa and Ipswich.

In mitigation, by half-time of the Villa game, Neil had lost the services of eight defenders to injury or suspension.

A 0-0 draw with Bolton stopped the rot, that the start of a nine-game unbeaten run.

That sequence lifted PNE from 14th place to seventh.

A similar run is what is needed now for North End to escape the bottom three and climb the table.

Neil said: “We lost four games on the bounce last year then after that won four of the next six.

“We know that we are more than capable of doing that and the next batch of games is a big one for us.”

Of North End’s seven games between now and the end of November, four are against sides outside the division’s top 10.

Hull prop up the table ahead of PNE’s visit to the KCOM Stadium on Saturday.

Ipswich, second from bottom, are the opponents for Neil’s men on November 3.

Five of PNE’s defeats have come against sides in the top nine, including the current top three.

Said Neil: “We need to get on a roll, pick up four or five results.

“That would help alleviate pressure and help us to enjoy things rather than worry.”

Looking at positives for the trip to Hull, North End beat them 2-1 on Humberside last season – Tom Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson find the net.

Robinson’s winner came late on, with him heading home a Daryl Horgan cross.

Both Robinson and Horgan had started the evening on the bench, going on to make the impact Neil wanted of them.