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Alex Neil calls on Stoke to be braver after his reign starts with a draw

Stoke City v Swansea City – Sky Bet Championship – bet365 Stadium
(Image credit: Isaac Parkin)

A relieved Alex Neil had his Stoke debut salvaged by a late Tyrese Campbell leveller as the Potters drew 1-1 with Swansea.

After switching Sunderland for Stoke on Sunday, the new boss endured a nightmare start to his reign when Joel Piroe handed the Swans an early opener.

But a frustrated Stoke had their persistence rewarded when substitute Campbell notched a stoppage time equaliser to earn his new boss a point.

“Opening night, you’re always concerned before you go into the games because I’ve had 24 hours to work with the players,” Neil said.

“We hit the bar, should have scored a header and the goal just took the confidence out of us for 15 minutes.

“I think you could see the lads started to get a little bit edgy and we’ve got to be braver than that and we’ve got to keep believing in what we’re doing.

“We spoke about that at half-time. We needed to play with a bit of personality and intensity, and I thought in the second half we were excellent.

“If anybody should have won the game, I thought it should have been us.

“It’s a good squad of players but, the fact is, we’ve been finishing in the bottom half of the league for the last three seasons, so we need to focus on where we are.

“These aren’t excuses but if you look at the entirety of the squad when you come in, you’re thinking that we’re in good shape but five are missing.

“The lads on the pitch though in the second half, all credit to them because they worked extremely hard and left everything on the pitch.”

The hosts struck the woodwork through an audacious lob from Lewis Baker and Swansea goalkeeper did well to deny Dwight Gayle early on.

Aden Flint spurned a glorious chance to level the proceedings after the interval but made amends late on when he teed up Campbell’s leveller.

Swansea boss Russell Martin said: “Given the last two results and with it being Alex’s first game here, you’d have probably said a point is a good result before the game.

“But to concede so late is really frustrating. I can’t remember Fisher making a save and their keeper’s been much busier.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t win but I’m extremely proud of the performance and the fight, desire and willingness to run for each other.

“There were some brilliant performances, but we’re just quite not ready yet to go to the next step unfortunately.

“I’m disappointed for the group, I can’t be angry, but the goal is just avoidable really. I’m really proud of their efforts and if we continue to show that, then we’re going to be more than alright.

“The Championship’s relentless and that’s what you get with a young team where people haven’t played every week at this level. If you compare the two squads, it’s very different.

“It’s a steep learning curve for our young players, it’s such an opportunity for them to grow and learn really quickly.

“It’s so exciting for us and the fans have a group of young players here now that can really grow with this club.”

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