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Alex Neil delighted as Preston dominate Middlesbrough at both ends of the pitch

Preston North End v Middlesbrough – Sky Bet Championship – Deepdale
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Preston boss Alex Neil was delighted with his side’s defending as they kept Middlesbrough at bay to record a 3-0 victory at Deepdale.

North End made it three matches unbeaten in the Championship with the win over Boro, as Brad Potts, Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis all found the net in the second half for the hosts.

It marked just the second time this season that the Lilywhites had taken all three points on their home patch, with just seven points from their nine home games this season.

And after firing in three goals past one of the sternest defences in the league, Neil had reason to smile after his side delivered at both ends of the pitch.

“Our home form hasn’t been great – we’re all aware of that, it’s been well-documented, so therefore I’m really pleased,” Neil said.

“Keeping a clean sheet is always pleasing too, as we haven’t kept enough, and we haven’t scored enough here and we’ve scored three tonight.

“We knew beforehand what to expect from Middlesbrough. We knew they’d be physical and direct, and that’s how it panned out.

“We were good in the first half and unfortunate not to be in front at half-time, but once we got the first goal that gave us a real lift.

“All of the subs gave us fresh energy, and that was just what we needed, they were probably the catalyst for our victory in the end.

“Naturally with our home form not being great this season there has been criticism, but hopefully the fans will be much happier after this result and performance tonight.”

The hosts took the lead just after the hour mark at Deepdale, as Potts diverted Andrew Hughes’ shot past Marcus Bettinelli after the Boro defence failed to clear a long throw into the penalty area.

And after withstanding the pressure from Neil Warnock’s side, two goals in as many minutes put the game to bed in the closing stages, with Sinclair slotting home his side’s second from an acute angle to double the lead.

Riis made it three after pouncing on a loose ball in the Boro penalty area, in a display that left visiting boss Warnock disappointed with his side’s lack of defensive mettle.

“Obviously it’s a very disappointing result for us. You just can’t concede goals like we did towards the end,” Warnock said.

“We had the opportunities, I thought. Early in the second half we dominated, but they got the first goal from a deflection and then it went downhill from there really.

“They got two more scruffy goals and it was game over. We’ve got to sit up tomorrow now, take the positives as best we can, and re-group ahead of the Millwall game.

“It just goes to show how young our squad is, and we are a bit thin at the minute. We’ve got to get across the opposition more and create more opportunities, there’s nothing we can do about this result now, though.

“We’ve got to score more goals obviously, and that’s been the problem here for a while I think.”