Alex Neil pleased to see changes pay off as Preston ease past Wigan
The Scot wanted a reaction from his side after last week’s defeat to Millwall.
Preston boss Alex Neil claims his changes were vindicated after Wigan were brushed aside 3-0 at Deepdale.
After an opening-day defeat to Millwall, Neil made four alterations to his starting XI for the Lancashire derby as Darnell Fisher, Billy Bodin, Daniel Johnson and Louis Moult all came into the team.
Moult grabbed North End’s second goal as he capitalised on some poor defending, while Johnson laid the ball off for Paul Gallagher to hammer in the hosts’ third.
Those came after Sean Maguire had opened the scoring in the sixth minute by nodding in Gallagher’s corner and Neil said it was night and day from last week’s performance in south London.
“It was important for us to win here and to do it in the manner we did was very pleasing,” he said. “We created enough chances to score even more goals.
“I made some bold changes with four alterations and took out some lads who have done brilliantly for us but if it’s what I feel is right for that game, I will make those decisions.
“I thought we played well for large parts of the game, we kept a clean sheet, scored three goals at home and everyone needed that lift.
“It was needed for the fans and for the players to get that confidence and belief back. One thing we won’t be lacking this season is belief and I think the lads showed that.
“Maybe towards the end of the game a few of them were perhaps looking a little bit tired, but we are still working our way into the season.”
Neil was also pleased to see his team keep a clean sheet – with goalkeeper Declan Rudd coming in for particular praise.
The Scot added: “I thought his handling was excellent, it can be difficult in conditions like this, so I was really pleased for him.”
For Wigan, defeat brought them back to earth with a bump after an impressive 3-2 victory over Cardiff on the opening day.
The result was almost a carbon copy of the 4-0 thrashing Wigan received at Deepdale last season and boss Paul Cook was fuming after watching his side capitulate once more.
“Of course I am frustrated to come away with this result,” he said. “I understand the supporters and I am no different, it is frustrating that we could not get our gameplan to work.
“The intention was to play the first 10 minutes of the game in Preston’s half of the pitch. We know what Preston are about and we wanted to try and press them.
“However, as it turned out, we spent the first 10 minutes defending in our own penalty box, and before we know it, we are 2-0 down.
“I thought we started the second half quite well and we knew it was important to get the next goal but then it’s 3-0 and the game is over.
“We know we have to integrate players into the team but this is an unforgiving league. Last year the target was to stay up and this year we want to be better than that.
“But to do that we cannot come away from home and concede goals in the way we have done here. The players know that and so do I.”