Sean Maguire 'absolutely terrific' in Preston North End's draw at Bristol City says Alex Neil
Preston North End striker Sean Maguire got a pat on the back from Alex Neil after ending his goal drought in the draw at Bristol City last night.
Maguire gave PNE a 16th minute lead after being played in by a superb back heel pass from Daniel Johnson.
It was his first goal since December and only his fifth of the season.
The 1-1 draw as Ashton Gate saw Preston finish ninth in the Championship table.
North End manager Neil said: "I'm pretty sure most people would have been surprised to see me play Seani but against a back three his movement down the sides was key.
"The middle centre-back is always going to be terrified against his pace and what happens is he drops too deep and Seani drops in to take the ball and move us the pitch.
"I thought for about 65 minutes until he tired I thought he was absolutely terrific.
"In the first half him and Daniel Johnson were absolutely magnificent, I thought DJ across the piece was by far and away the outstanding player on the pitch."
Neil has largely stuck by Maguire this season despite the lack of goals and the Republic of Ireland international has taken some stick from supporters.
"What we need to remember with Sean is what he offers the team," said Neil.
"I know and understand - and so does he - that you are going to be judged by goals being a striker. That is a definite for any striker.
"What Seani brings to the team is so much, he gets into some good areas.
"There was one when he should have passed to Brad Potts but he took his goal really well, albeit he took quite a few touches before shooting.
"He probably just needs his confidence back in front of goal, not in his general play because that was terrific.
"But as a striker when you are in that box and bang you put it in the net, automatically you have that belief that when the ball falls for you it is going to go in the net.
"This season goals wise, I'm sure Seani will be disappointed, but performance wise he hasn't let us down."
Neil was rich in his praise of midfielder Johnson who this week won the player of the year awards from both the PNE fans and his team-mates.
The way he set up Maguire's goal was quite special, that his seventh assist of the season to add to his 12 Championship goals.
Neil said: "DJ has been doing things like that all year. if you look at what he has done he has been magic for us.
"We need to lighten his load a little bit and get other guys to chip in with a bit more because we have been so reliant on him.
"If I could have given him a player of the year award myself, I would have done that."