Hillsborough not a happy venue for Preston North End boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil is hoping for a change of fortune when he returns to Hillsborough this Saturday.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 10:00 am

The Preston North End boss has seen his sides ship nine goals in his two games as a manager at Hillsborough.

In March the Lilywhites were resoundingly beaten 4-1 on Good Friday, all the goals coming in the second half.

A little over 12 months earlier Neil had seen his Norwich side hammered 5-1 in what would turn out to be his penultimate game in charge of the Canaries.

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Former Preston North End man Adam Reach

Despite that record the Scot heads to South Yorkshire in good spirits with his current side having lost just one of their last 12 in the Championship.

The Owls on the other hand have tasted defeat in seven of their last 10 and are 18th in the table with fans calling for manager Jos Luhukay to go.

“I think they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag,” said Neil.

“They started the season well and got some really good results.

“Of late they’ve found if difficult and have chopped and changed with personnel and shape.

“The one thing I will say is Hillsborough has not really been a kind place to me in recent times when I’ve been there.

“I’ll certainly be looking for a much better performance than the last couple of times I’ve been there.”

A good start from PNE could see the atmosphere turn hostile towards the hosts.

Owls supporters made their feelings clear about the current situation at a fans’ forum with owner Dejphon Chansiri on Wednesday night, an event that was switched to a smaller venue over safety fears.

Neil, however, sees trying to get things going in their favour early on at Hillsborough as no different to any away trip.

“If you’re not doing what the locals and fans expect then naturally they are going to voice their opinion,” said the PNE boss. “Some places are more vocal than others.

“And I think that Sheffield Wednesday, with the history they’ve got and where they have been, are expecting to be at the top end and challenging.

“The fans will naturally 
show their pleasure or 
displeasure on how the game goes.

“Going to any venue, though, the first thing you’ve got to do is quieten the crowd and build yourselves into the game and make sure you build a bit of momentum.

“That’s certainly how we’ll approach this one.”

On the field, under-fire Luhukay has been shuffling the pack from game to game in recent weeks in his search for a winning formula to turn things around.

One man who has remained key is a familiar one to PNE fans in former loanee Adam Reach.

The versatile midfielder, who spent the 2015-16 season at Deepdale, has six goals and three assists despite the Owls’ struggles.

Striker Lucas Joao leads the way having found the back of the net eight times and has three in his last three games in the Championship.