Boss Alex Neil on Preston North End's hard habit to break

Alex Neil admits Preston's struggle at the bottom of the Championship is big worry to him and that a '˜purple patch' of results is needed soon to turn things around.

Monday, 1st October 2018, 6:00 am

PNE’s 3-2 defeat against West Bromwich Albion was their fourth league loss on the bounce and they have only five points on the board from their opening 10 games.

They have conceded 12 goals in the four defeats, and 21 in total this term.

Neil was encouraged by some aspects of his side’s play in the Deepdale defeat to WBA but knows it is results which are needed to arrest the slide.

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Ben Davies looks downbeat after his own goal

“Of course I worry, I would be lying if I said I was sat here really comfortable because I’m not,” said Neil.

“I’m concerned by the fact we need to pick up a lot more points and we need to pick them up quickly. Winning is a habit and sometimes losing can become a habit too.

“It is all very frustrating at the moment as a player and as a coach.

“All we can do is carry on working hard, the lads are in it together.

“We have had to contend with a lot this year in terms of injuries and suspensions which haven’t helped us.

“I think you can see now that we are starting to get the semblance of what our best team would be.

“We have two important games coming up, then we have the break.

“Then we have got a great batch of about eight games.

“We should have Sean Maguire back then, which will be a big boost.

“Hopefully that should be a purple patch for us when we can pick up a lot of points.”

All the goals on Saturday were in the second half, WBA taking the lead three minutes after half-time through a Jay Rodriguez header.

Andrew Hughes levelled before a Ben Davies own goal and Dwight Gayle’s free-kick put the visitors out of sight.

Late in stoppage time, Alan Browne pulled a goal back.

PNE lined-up in a 3-5-2 
formation, with Jordan 
Storey making his first league appearance.

Said Neil: “Rodriguez and Gayle split, they work each side of the box and are quick.

“Our two quickest centre-halves down the sides are Ben Davies and Jordan Storey.

“My thinking was that if West Bromwich sprang the ball down the sides, Ben and Jordan were comfortable in being dragged out there.

“It wasn’t that which cost us, it was just a little bit of ball watching for the first goal.”

Paul Gallagher was not in the squad because of a back injury, while Lukas Nmecha missed out too.

Neil said: “Lukas had trained three or four times but it is difficult trying to fit everyone in the squad so there are certain decisions I have to make based on the game.”