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Preston reaping rewards of keeping it simple in final third says Alex Neil

PNE boss Alex Neil believes his side are reaping the rewards of keeping things simple in the final third in recent weeks.

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Alan Browne is congratulated on his goal against Hull.

Alan Browne is congratulated on his goal against Hull.

Seven points have come in the last three games without Jordan Hugill, the £9.5 million striker pulled out of the side at Nottingham Forest before his big-money move to West Ham the following day.

The Lilywhites have struggled for goals at times this season, Neil’s side the lowest scorers in the top half of the Championship with 38 coming in 31 games.

But with a more fluid frontline three were notched in the win at the City Ground with two then coming against Hull.

In the 1-1 draw at Brentford last time out on Saturday, the goal came from a Tom Barkhuizen cross that was offered in early and managed to miss everyone before nestling in the far corner of Daniel Bentley’s net.

“What we have tried to do is make it more predictable for our own players,” said Neil, whose side are seventh ahead of hosting leaders Wolves on Saturday.

“We went through a wee spell when we were guilty of over-playing in areas where we didn’t need to.

“If the ball is in a good wide area, instead of coming back and playing 17 passes, why not if you are unopposed put a good ball into the box and see if anyone can get on the end of it?

“We did that at Nottingham Forest, did it the other week against Hull and then again at Brentford.

“Tom’s cross didn’t get a touch – Callum Robinson got across the front of it so the keeper didn’t know whether to dive or not.”

Billy Bodin won penalties for PNE against Nottingham Forest and Hull, Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne converting.

Greg Cunningam and Tom Barkhuizen have also been on target from corners in the last three games.

The latter’s sixth of the campaign at Griffin Park on Saturday, the same number as he managed in the second half of last season after his January arrival at Deepdale, saw him establish himself in second spot in North End’s goalscoring charts

The flying winger’s next aim will be to close in on the 10 scored by Jordan Hugill before his move to the London Stadium on deadline day.

Others will also be eyeing double figures come the end of the campaign with Callum Robinson, Josh Harrop, Alan Browne and Sean Maguire, who is closing in on a return from injury, all on four.