Alex Neil slams Preston's display against Birmingham as worst of his reign

Alex Neil labelled Preston North End's performance in the Deepdale draw with Birmingham City as the poorest under him.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 9:35 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th January 2018, 10:55 pm
North End after conceding the equaliser against Birmingham

North End were not at the races in the 1-1 draw, Lilywhites manager Neil admitting they had deserved nothing out of the contest.

Ben Davies' first PNE goal gave them a first-half lead before some calamitous defending handed Sam Gallagher the opportunity to score Birmingham's 63rd minute equaliser.

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North End after conceding the equaliser against Birmingham

Neil said: "Individually and collectively that was the poorest we have been since I've been at the club, so I'm really frustrated and disappointed.

"I didn't think we deserved anything from the game so the the only bonus to take is that we got a point.

"However, when you are 1-0 up you want to get something.

"I don't think Birmingham created countless chances when you think they should have scored and we gifted them the goal that gave them a point.

Alex Neil

"We were flowery, we were soft, I thought Birmingham did the fundamentals of the game very well which is winning your headers, winning your tackles, winning your second balls, be aggressive.

"Normally that is a big strength of ours but today that was lacking."

Birmingham's equaliser perhaps typified Preston's afternoon.

Chris Maxwell collected a back pass and played it short to Paul Huntington who was immediately closed down by Jacques Maghoma.

North End after conceding the equaliser against Birmingham

As Huntington was tackled, goalkeeper Maxwell came out of his box to try and intervene but ended-up colliding with Huntington - leaving Gallagher to find an unguarded net.

Neil said: "At the stage they equalised, it was about game management.

"We needed to put the ball forward and we decided to make a silly pass at the back, conceding an horrendous goal off it."

North End missed Ben Pearson's presence in midfield, an injury picked-up at Millwall keeping him out.

Alex Neil

He chose not to start Alan Browne either - bringing him on for the concussed Jordan Hugill - the hosts looking lightweight in midfield.

"We have come up against a team fighting for their lives and I thought they displayed all those traits," said Neil.

"They were tireless in their work ethic.

"We were missing Ben Pearson and I didn't start Alan Browne - people moan here that Alan plays at home but that is why he has to.

"When he doesn't, we lack the fundamentals to win tackles and headers, I needed to bring him on to give us a bit of that."