Battling spirit pleases Neil after Preston fight back to beat Blackburn

Preston boss Alex Neil praised his players’ fighting spirit as they came from two goals down to beat Lancashire rivals Blackburn 3-2 thanks to a stirring second-half performance.

The win means Preston are up to second in the Sky Bet Championship table and remain unbeaten at Deepdale in the league this season, while Blackburn’s winless run now stands at six games.

Neil admitted he got his tactics wrong in the first half as Blackburn went two up early on through a Declan Rudd own goal and Sam Gallagher’s strike.

But the Scot changed things around in the second half and watched on as Tom Barkhuizen netted twice, either side of a Daniel Johnson penalty.

Neil said: “We have shown real fight today, in what was always going to be a difficult game.

“Derby matches are always tough and full credit to Blackburn, they made it into a derby game right from the kick-off.

“They were aggressive at both ends of the pitch, they were in our faces right from the start and we had to respond to that.

“Initially, we did not cope with their aggressive style and that caused us problems and led to us conceding early goals.

“But I got the players in at half-time and gave them an honest chat about the first-half performance.

“Our tactics from the first half were not working, so I had to put my pride to one side and change things around at half-time.

“I think the substitutions were very important and allowed us the chance to get back into the game.

“I have to praise the players for how they reacted after the break and their response was emphatic.”

Tony Mowbray’s side flew out of the blocks and were ahead inside the first minute, when Gallagher’s bundling header hit Rudd and went over the line.

Bradley Dack then found himself in space on the edge of the Preston box and played in Gallagher for the second goal in the 11th minute.

Barkhuizen powered home from close range to kick-start the Preston revival eight minutes into the second half, before Johnson slotted home from the spot following a foul on Alan Browne by Elliott Bennett.

And Barkuizen completed the comeback with eight minutes to go, firing past Christian Walton from a tight angle.

Blackburn boss Mowbray said: “Today was an example of a game of two very different halves of football, it really was.

“I thought the players looked to bring what we have worked on this week into the game in the first half, and we caused problems.

“After the break we had no luck, as Preston looked to go long and play higher up the pitch.

“We found that difficult to deal with and the referee has made it difficult for us.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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