Preston boss Alex Neil is looking up rather than down after his side registered another three points, this time at home to Millwall

Alex Neil afforded himself a look up the Championship rather than downwards after Preston's victory over Millwall at Deepdale.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 17th December 2018, 5:00 am

While the 3-2 win saw PNE stay in 15th place, they are now closer to sixth spot in terms of points than to the relegation zone.

Bearing in mind Neil’s men were bottom of the table less than three months ago, it has been some turnaround.

Saturday’s game was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, Neil putting it in the job done category and happy to move on.

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Alan Browne celebrates scoring the first goal with Lukas Nmecha

“It wasn’t great but at the end of the day it was another three points,” said Neil.

“We have lost one game in the last 12, this was another win under our belt and we are closer to the play-offs than we are to the dreaded drop zone.

“It was a good day in terms of getting points on the board and you’ve got to be happy with that.”

A drab first half came to life when Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen scored within five minutes of one another to send PNE into half-time 2-0 up.

Jake Cooper pulled a goal back for Millwall at the hour mark before Andrew Hughes made it 3-1 with nine minutes remaining.

A stoppage-time goal from Lee Gregory proved no more than a consolation.

Neil said: “There were some poor bits from us in the second half.

“But there are some games in the course of a season when the result is more important than the performance.

“This game fell into that category and we move on.

“In the second half I was trying to see what I could do to affect the game.

“I juggled Tom Barkhuizen and Lukas Nmecha, I tried to juggle Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher, I tried to move people to get a foothold in the game and find a rhythm.

“We got the job done and it won’t be a game we are talking about for a long time.

“But we still scored three more goals.

“We spoke regularly last season about how we couldn’t score and lacked creativity.

“This season we haven’t lacked that and points wise we aren’t that far away from where we were last year.

“The pleasing thing for us is that we have got a lot of lads to come back from injury and a January window in which we hope to be active in order to give the squad a hand and try and improve in the second half of the season.”

Injuries took another bite into the forward line, Louis Moult missing out with nerve trouble in his hamstring.

Nmecha led the attack, with Johnson operating on the right-wing.

There was a place on the bench for 16-year-old winger Ethan Walker who is a first-year scholar in the academy.