Neil backs Lukas

Alex Neil says the eagerness of Lukas Nmecha to score his first goal in a Preston shirt could have been the reason behind him missing a great opportunity in the weekend draw at Ipswich.

Tuesday, 6th November 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th November 2018, 2:46 am
Preston North End's Lukas Nmecha

Nmecha was put through on goal by Sean Maguire’s pass in the 88th minute.

However, the Manchester City loanee dwelt too long on the ball and a sliding tackle from Matthew Pennington took the ball off his foot.

PNE boss Neil said: “It was our best chance of the game right at the end.

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“Lukas just dwelt on it a bit too long and allowed their lad to tackle.

“He is so eager to get his first goal that he was being too precise.

“When a player does that, sometimes the opportunity escapes you.

“It’s all about learning and taking it on board ready for when it happens again.”

Nmecha has started nine games and come off the bench four times in league and cup since joining on a season’s loan from City in August.

His performances of late have gone up several notches as he got used to playing in the Championship.

But a goal still evades him, what the teenager needing is the proverbial ball going in off his backside to set him on his way for North End.

Against Ipswich, Nmecha started on the bench, with Sean Maguire given the job of leading the attack.

The 19-year-old joined the action in the 71st minute as part of a double substitution with man-of-the-moment Paul Gallagher.

Neil said: “Lukas is 19 and still learning.

“He had started five games on the bounce, and away from home is a different type of game to being at home.

“At home, the onus is on you to try and create.

“Away from home, and in particular going to Ipswich where I expected their fans to be right behind the team as they were, I thought that we needed a bit more experience to fight and scrap.

“Sometimes you have to do some of the unsavoury jobs as a forward.”

Maguire’s start in place of Nmecha was his second since returning from a two-month absence with damage to a hamstring tendon.

The Irishman had started at Hull last month, more out of necessity than design.

On that occasion, Neil used him in a wide position due to Tom Barkhuizen and Brandon Barker being absent.

Before that, Maguire had a run-out as a substitute in the 4-0 win over Wigan.

He came on in the recent home games with Brentford and Rotherham.

The fact Maguire got through 90 minutes against Ipswich is encouraging in his quest for full match fitness after his lay-off.