Substitution gamble paid off says PNE boss Alex Neil

PNE boss Alex Neil with his Burton counterpart Nigel Clough
PNE boss Alex Neil with his Burton counterpart Nigel Clough
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Preston North End manager Alex Neil was delighted to see the gamble of a double substitution pay-off in the victory over Burton Albion.

Neil made a double change in the 62nd minute with the scoreline goalless, bringing on Daryl Horgan and Josh Harrop for top scorer Jordan Hugill and Alan Browne.

Daryl Horgan and Josh Harrop prepare to come on against Burton

Daryl Horgan and Josh Harrop prepare to come on against Burton

Horgan in particular shone, forcing the corner which led to Tom Clarke's opener and then scoring the second goal with a fine finish from the edge of the box.

Albion pulled back a stoppage-time consolation through Lucas Akins.

Neil said: "We looked a lot more threatening when our two substitutes came on.

"But even up until that point I would argue that we had the better opportunities in the game.

Tom Clarke celebrates opening the scoring for PNE at Burton

Tom Clarke celebrates opening the scoring for PNE at Burton

"There was a great save which their keeper made from Darnell Fisher, then Callum Robinson had one cleared off the line.

"Before the game, I said that Burton would make it difficult for us - and they did.

"They are organised and work really hard.

"If you are not up for that physical side of the game you are in for a tough afternoon.

Callum Robinson takes on Burton's Will Miller

Callum Robinson takes on Burton's Will Miller

"Up until the 60 minute mark I was probably a bit frustrated with our quality on the ball, I thought we could have moved it a bit quicker and better.

"Credit to Burton, they tried to deny us space.

"I changed it after an hour, I felt their two centre-backs had dealt with Jordan Hugill well - sometimes when you have a strong striker and two strong centre-backs, they cancel each other out.

"It was a bit of a gamble making the changes and losing the presence of Jordan.

"But I just felt if we could get it down and move the ball, we could get in behind the midfield and stretch them.

"Thankfully the players made it work and that won us the game.

"What happened was that as soon as Burton saw Tom Barkhuizen's pace down the middle, they dropped off.

"Then the gap between their midfield and defence opened-up too much allowing Daryl, Josh Harrop and Callum Robinson to operate in the pockets."

Neil gave Horgan a big pat on the back for taking his chance, suggesting that had been his best performance of the season.

"Daryl was excellent and I've got to admit it has been a really frustrating time for him," said Neil.

"To be fair, that is the best I have seen him and he would admit that himself.

"He has been wanting an opportunity and hasn't had that many of those.

"Daryl is a good lad, works extremely hard but he has to put those types of displays in to merit being picked.

"To be honest, he couldn't have done any more today."