Too many missed chances says Alex Neil after Preston North End are beaten by Reading

Alex Neil was left to rue missed chances as Preston North End ended 2019 with defeat to Reading at Deepdale yesterday.

Monday, 30th December 2019, 6:00 am
Preston striker Sean Maguire has a header in the 2-0 defeat to Reading at Deepdale
Preston striker Sean Maguire has a header in the 2-0 defeat to Reading at Deepdale

The Lilywhites created 21 chances in the game and had 73 per cent of possession but failed to score at home for only the second time this season.

At the other end, the Royals showed them how it was done by scoring twice in four minutes early in the contest.

They then sat back and absorbed pressure to hold out pretty comfortably for their 2-0 victory.

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Billy Bodin on the attack for Preston against Reading

North End manager Neil said: “We probably created more chances than we had done in any of the games we have won at home.

“We lacked that bit of incisiveness and clinical edge at the top end of the pitch.

“There have been other games where we have maybe created four chances and scored twice to win.

“In this one we had 20 shots at their goal and didn’t score. That is far too many as a volume at this level and not to convert them.”

Neil stuck with nine of the starters from Boxing Day’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United.

Josh Harrop and Billy Bodin came in for David Nugent and Tom Barkhuizen.

An eye injury suffered at Leeds ruled Nugent out of contention, while Barkhuizen had to be content with a run as a substitute in the second half.

Harrop set up an early chance for Brad Potts which the Reading keeper saved. With it 0-0 at the time, that was a critical moment in the contest.

Neil said: “Josh and Billy were in the team to try and give us some creativity.

“I think Josh gave the ball away for the first goal, having said that he created Pottsy’s chance to score early on.

“If Pottsy scores it is a different game and we would all be saying that is why Josh is in the team.

"That is the fine margins we are working to. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t at times.”

Neil opted not to start Paul Gallagher, while skipper Tom Clarke started at right-back.

“The reason I didn’t start Gally was because we would have needed our full-backs to push further up the pitch if we had,” said Neil.

“I thought we looked a real threat with our front five in the first half. But we didn’t take our chances and Reading looked dangerous going the other way.

“In terms of playing Tom Clarke, Reading are second in the league for set-plays since Mark Bowen went in.

“I knew Ovie Ejaria doesn’t really play as a winger, he plays further in the pitch so the right-back isn’t going to be playing against anyone.

“I thought Tom’s presence, height and size was needed back there for set pieces. I thought he had a good game.

“He came off later on when we were trying to force it.”