Alex Neil praises Preston's ability to go the distance after another late goal

Alex Neil has praised his side's never-say-die attitude as they continue their push for the Championship play-offs.

Saturday, 30th December 2017, 10:58 am
Updated Saturday, 30th December 2017, 12:05 pm
Tom Clarke celebrates his winner at Cardiff.

VERDICT: Alex Neil hails Preston's fine first half of the seasonTom Clarke headed home in the 90th minute as PNE extended their unbeaten run to nine games with a 1-0 win at Cardiff on Friday night.

Middlesbrough and new boss Tony Pulis are next up at Deepdale on New Year’s Day.

North End have not scored in the first quarter of an hour of a game this season but the captain’s winner at the Cardiff City Stadium means nine of Preston’s 28 league goals have come in the final 15 minutes of matches.

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Tom Clarke celebrates his winner at Cardiff.

“We’ve tended to work our way into games for most of the season,” said Neil.

“I think we’re the only team not to have scored in the first 15 minutes which isn’t a great stat for us and is disappointing.

“But we seem to be that type of team that keep going.

“We’ve scored nearly half of our goals in the last 30 minutes and I think it just shows how fit, strong, determined and tenacious we are.

Tom Clarke celebrates his winner at Cardiff.

“We don’t give up. We’ve kept 11 clean sheets so whoever is up against us knows they are in a game for the full 90 minutes.”

North End have also proved they can deal with different challenges under Neil.

They have used a high press to hurt passing sides but have also matched more physical teams on their day - edging out Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds being the latest example of the latter.

“It was a hard-fought match,” said PNE boss Nell.

“We’ve shown this year we can beat good footballing teams and we’ve also shown that we can mix it with the big physical teams as well.

“Every time we go into a game we look at the opposition and what we have to counteract.

“We knew what was coming, the question was could the players stand up to it and do what was required to go and deal with it?

“I had no doubts that my players could and they did.

“That’s twice we’ve beaten Cardiff and I’m not sure many teams will do that.”