Alex Neil infuriated by PNE’s ‘crap’ mistake and performance in Rotherham defeat

Preston North End Alex Neil was bitterly disappointed with his side’s performance in their ‘horrific’ 2-1 defeat at Rotherham United.

The Lilywhites were made to pay for an error late in the day as Matt Crooks scored a goal just minutes from time to win the match.

Ryan Ledson had drawn PNE level with a tidy finish on 80 minutes, but his first strike counted for nothing as North End tasted defeat away from home for the first time this season.

After the game, Neil was visibily frustraetd by what he had seen – in particular the goals conceded and PNE’s general play.

Here’s what he had to say, post-match.

Overriding emotion Alex?

“Disappointed and frustrated,” he said. “I didn’t think we didn’t play well and the game panned out exactly how I expected it to.

“I’ve never seen anyone come here and make it a free-flowing game – they are aggressive, in your face, fight for second balls, they run, make you defend.

“We flipped to a diamond shape after 30 minutes to have runners through the middle and got our chance with DJ and we don’t take it which was a big moment.

“We concede a set play after we lose the second ball, they score and at that point you’re concerned – but Tommy B had a good chance, Gally helped us, Ryan gets us back in the game with a great strike and from that point I genuinely thought we were going to win the match.

“And then, what we did speak about was not playing square passes against Rotherham and I don’t really know how you legislate for the mistake for the second goal – we just pass it straight to them, we’re open, they break, Alan had to go right back because Darnell had to go off again and he was caught on the half-way line.

“If I’m being honest, far too many didn’t play well enough today or move the ball well enough and I thought some people in the first half gave the ball away every time they touched it. There were some poor performances in there.”

After the equaliser it looked yours to win, but what can you do with the mistake?

“The disappointing with giving the ball away is there isn’t even any pressure,” said Neil. “We are standing in the middle of the pitch with nobody anywhere near us and we pass the ball straight to them.

“I don’t know what you do with that, it’s crap, absolute rubbish and ultimately we’ve cost ourselves the game.

“Even if we’d have got a point I’d have been disappointed with the performance because I think we can play far better – the amount of times we needed to show a bit of composure and just kicked the way we were facing.

“If you think you’re going into the game and get the ball down, stroke a few passes, it isn’t going to happen – the first-half hour is going to be hell for leather.

“The ball needs to stick at the top, which it didn’t – once the game settled, I changed the shape to find the spare player and we didn’t use the ball well enough.

“The only one who showed a bit of composure and got on the ball for me was Ryan Ledson, and then Gally when he came on.”

Missed opportunity?

“Yeah, especially when you could’ve capitalised on a good result at Reading and go into the break on a good high with 16 points.

“We’d have probably been in the top ten and been in good shape, but we were the makers of our own downfall at times.

“Pissed off is probably the best way to describe it – we’ve got four guys missing for us who play regularly and we had four right footers in our back-line, so we had no balance.”

You predicted exactly what Rotherham gave you?

“Every game I’ve watched has been the exact same, it doesn’t matter who you are,” he said.

“I knew it was coming, I warned them it was coming, I warned them at half-time and told them they shouldn’t be surprised.

“The first one was a set play and then we passed the ball to them – we had the better chances in the match.

“You want to go back-to-back and put a run together and if we’d have won today it would’ve been four wins in six, which is good form in this division.

“Instead, we’re talking about a horrific defeat because of a bad, bad mistake.”

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