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Neil lauds five-star Preston performance
North End are unbeaten in eight games and sit third in the table.
Preston boss Alex Neil insisted his side could have had 10 goals as they hammered Barnsley 5-1 at Deepdale.
Daniel Johnson was the game’s outstanding performer, scoring twice and notching two assists as the hosts shrugged off a first-half equaliser from Cameron McGeehan with a second-half display that had all the hallmarks of a side bang in form.
North End now sit third in the Championship on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run.
Neil said: “To be honest that has been coming, in a lot of the home games we have performed very well.
“I thought we were the better side from the first minute to the last minute. The only disappointment I have got is that after we scored the first goal we got a little bit sloppy.
“Their quality and composure was excellent. We didn’t try to force things, we kept on playing, kept on probing. We knew how to play against them – up, back and through was going to be the key and we did that.
“If our fans didn’t enjoy that you would never enjoy a game of football.
“It was excellent to watch, entertaining, we could arguably have scored 10 goals – we missed four sitters in the first half and there was David Nugent’s chance in the second half as well.”
Johnson opened the scoring, heading home a rebound in the 31st minute after Brad Collins had saved a Tom Barkhuizen shot.
McGeehan levelled for the visitors before the break but following the restart the writing was on the wall after Johnson broke down the left and squared for Barkhuizen (50) to slot home.
Johnson grabbed his second before Barkhuizen set up Ben Pearson to make it 4-1, with substitute Josh Harrop firing in the fifth to leave angry Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel likening his players to a junior side.
Stendel said: “You can see over the 90 minutes that both in the small things and the big situations we played like a youth team.
“Bad touches, fouls and mistakes. At half-time I thought it wasn’t our best half but we were 1-1 with one chance for us and that was a good result so maybe we could keep going for a bit longer and make more chances.
“But the second half was the worst I can remember since coming to Barnsley.
“The players want to fight and never give up but after the games we have lost we have lost a little bit of confidence and you can see each player has a problem with himself.
“It’s very difficult when another player cannot help when one makes a mistake. Today every player had a lot of problems and Preston played well. At the moment we are playing like a team that is not good enough to play in the Championship.
“We are all really down after the game and it is not easy for us to play our game at the moment. The changing room was very quiet.
“We need to talk about what we can do to get our team together and find the best solution for the club and the players.
“We need time but we do not have the time and we can try our best but at the moment our best is not good enough.”