Alex Neil believes his Preston squad deserve great credit for the manner in which they have come through their recent injury crisis, after seeing them secure a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest without some of their key men.
Louis Moult’s 56th-minute finish, slotted home from close range following a low ball from Lukas Nmecha, was enough to secure victory for the visitors, against a Forest side who had previously only tasted defeat once on home soil.
Forest paid the price for their failure to show the same level of ruthlessness in front of goal, with Daryl Murphy, Joe Lolley and Lewis Grabban all having chances without managing to convert.
But Preston boss Neil was delighted with the character shown by his team.
“We have now lost one game in 11 which is some going at this level,” said Neil. “And we have two away wins at Bristol City and here – which are difficult venues.
“And we have still got four or five players out – and players who are key figures. Ben Pearson is a talisman for us and Callum Robinson is our top scorer.
“So we have a lot of bodies out who are a big influence and to do what we have done without those players speaks volumes of this squad.”
Neil said Preston had arrived at the City Ground with a meticulous game-plan.
“To come here and limit a Nottingham Forest side who have a lot of good players; to limit them as much as we did as well as we did and to win the game, was pleasing,” he said.
“We still managed to have that threat on the counter-attack. It was a terrific effort.
“Coming here, we knew that if we went toe-to-toe with them, it would be a tough game. We had a plan in place, we wanted to be narrow and stop them playing in the pockets they like to occupy.
“I thought our game-plan worked very well. But it is one thing having a plan and it is another carrying it out. I thought the players carried it out to a tee. I am delighted with the way they went about their work.”
Reds manager Aitor Karanka felt his side’s biggest short-falling was their failure to make more of their chances – and he believed they should have had game out of sight by half-time.
“I think the only thing we missed was scoring goals; that was the only thing we were missing today,” he said.
“In the first half in particular, we played really well and we should have been winning 2-0 or 3-0 by half time, if not by more.
“But we did not play the same in the second half; we did not play in the way that we should have done.
“We finished the game with Lewis Grabban and Daryl Murphy up front and we started to play in the wrong way; we started to play long balls and we do not know how to play in that way.
“I do not know if it is difficult to retain the dominance we had in the first half for 90 minutes – but that is what we have to do.
“In the Championship, every single mistake you make is punished.
“We have to defend stronger, we have to keep our consistency and work for 95 minutes. In this division, if you make one mistake, you are penalised.
“I think we need to learn from this. If we want to win games we need to score goals and be more clinical.”
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