Preston North End new boys will take time to bed in says boss Alex Neil
Alex Neil knows Preston North End will have to gel in the final third sooner rather than later after drawing a blank at Swansea.
Jay Fulton’s header just after the half hour handed the home side a 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium, PNE improving after the break following a dismal showing in the first period.
They mustered 12 shots in total, five on target, but had nothing to show for their efforts in what was something of a familiar story for Neil’s Lilywhites.
Manchester City loanee Lukas Nmecha started in place of Louis Moult while Brandon Barker and Graham Burke also made debuts off the bench.
“I thought we probably passed the ball in the second half as well as we have done since I’ve been here,” said Neil.
“I think there was a lot of good movement, a lot of good passing.
“But the simple fact is you’ve got to put the ball in the net.
“What you’ve got to bear in mind though is that Lukas has come in for his first game and Brandon Barker and Graham Burke have as well. There’s a lot moving parts.
“We’ve got a lot of players who have literally just been flung in the team.
“We’re going to have to gel as a team more.
“Unfortunately for us the first half wasn’t good enough and that meant we had to go and break them down which we didn’t do.”
The improved second-half display came on the back of Neil telling his side to believe in themselves more at the break.
North End could have been more than the one goal down after a shaky and sloppy opening 45 but ended the game having had 58 per cent possession to Swansea’s 42.
“It should be a lesson,” said the PNE boss.
“I was a different type of the game than what we’re used to. It was much more like a Premier League game than a Championship game.
“It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to us because we went through it in the week but challenging them at half-time brought the best out of them.
“They are competitive animals and showed they can move the ball as well as the opposition.”
The Lilywhites next host Morecambe in the first round of the League Cup at Deepdale on Tuesday night with Neil set to give some of those who haven’t featured in the first two games of the Championship season a chance.
“We’ll certainly be making changes for game,” he said.
“Those who haven’t been playing especially after a defeat on Saturday, will be eager to prove what they can do and put themselves at the forefront of my mind.”