Neil: We feared Wigan Athletic ‘aggression’

Alex Neil
Alex Neil

Alex Neil admitted his Preston North End side had feared Wigan Athletic’s ‘aggressive’ approach in the lead-up - and couldn’t have been more pleased with the way things panned out at Deepdale.

Goals from Tom Barkhuizen, Callum Robinson (2) and a Paul Gallagher penalty saw North End move off the bottom of the Championship after a 4-0 triumph.

And Neil could not hide his delight - and relief - after the game.

“We didn’t start too brightly, for the first five minutes we were a bit timid,” he acknowledged.

“We had spoken about getting the ball down the sides of them because Wigan are really aggressive with their line.

“So we thought that with our pace and movement at the top end we could create problems.

“Lukas Nmecha’s movement and his power was excellent.

“We got the first goal which was great, it came from a good bit of movement from Tom Barkhuizen and a great reverse ball from Alan Browne.

“We should have had a penalty when Lukas was brought down, it was a great ball from Daniel Johnson to play him through.

“It is always a worry when you have a lot of the play but don’t have the goals to show for it.

“We spoke at half-time and I told them we had been here so many times before, so we had to go and make the second half count - get another goal to go and win the match.

“We did that, I thought we were good.

“There are still things we can improve on but today was more about the points.

“To do that by scoring four goals, getting Sean Maguire back on the pitch and keeping a clean sheet, if I had to write a script beforehand that would probably have been it.”

Neil was fully vindicated in the decision to shuffle his back four after leaking 24 goals in the opening 11 matches.

“I made a big decision leaving Ben Davies out, he had been an ever-present apart from Norwich,” the North End boss added.

“I put young Jordan (Storey) in - him and Tom (Clarke) did very well.

“It was pleasing we got the clean sheet because that has to be your foundation - you have to be defensively solid

“We haven’t been solid this season - we have been scoring goals but not keeping clean sheets.

“In terms of moving the ball from middle to front we have definitely improved from last season but we need to make sure we are keeping the back door shut.

“Today, that was a big factor in the game.”