Preston pass last season's points total and stay in play-off race to delight of manager Alex Neil
Alex Neil was delighted to see Preston pass their points tally for the last two seasons as they kept their faint play-off hopes alive.
Having finished the previous couple of campaigns in 11th on 62 points, North End hit 63 with their 3-1 win over Leeds at Deepdale on Tuesday night.
Ending their three-game losing run thanks to second-half goals from Paul Gallagher, Sean Maguire and Alan Browne means PNE are five points shy of the top six with four to play.
“What we’ve got to do is what we did tonight, which is just focus on winning our game, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing and just try and play well and get a result,” said Neil.
“Peter Ridsdale speaks regularly about trying to improve season-on-season and now we’ve beaten our tally from last year which is pleasing.
“We’ve got four games remaining and we want to add some more points to that.
“If it means other teams around us drop points and we get back into the race, so to speak, then we’ll really look forward to the run-in.
“All in all up until this point it’s been a pretty good season but we want to finish strongly.
“We were really disappointed in the last three matches that we didn’t keep our charge going but it’s not over yet.”
Having played well for large parts of their three defeats only to come away with no points, it was finding the back of the net that made the difference against Leeds.
Kemar Roofe gave Leeds an early lead with many fearing it was going to be the same old story.
But Gallagher’s penalty five minutes after the interval and Maguire’s header just two minutes later turned the game on its head before Browne completed the scoring late on. “The goals made the difference, it’s as simple as that,” said Neil.
“Goals change matches. We were 1-0 down and then within eight minutes of the second half we’re 2-1 up.
“As a player you can run that extra yard, you can take the ball in tighter areas, you’ve got that bit of confidence and it lifts everyone, players, fans and everything to do with the club.
“It’s just about the goals. Against Sheffield Wednesday we were excellent in the first half and then they went bang, bang with two goals in three minutes which knocks the stuffing out of you. That’s what we did to Leeds tonight.”
Maguire ended the game with a tight hamstring, Darnell Fisher having missed the match with a similar problem.
“I don’t think Seani’s done any serious damage,” Neil said.
“With Darnell I didn’t want to run the risk but I thought Tom Clarke came in and put in a really good performance.”