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Alex Neil ‘loves being at Preston’ as Paul Gallagher sends North End top

Preston manager Alex Neil restated his loyalty to the club after watching his team go top of the Championship with a 1-0 victory over Charlton at the Valley.

The day after Preston denied struggling Stoke permission to speak to Neil about their managerial vacancy, Paul Gallagher’s second-half penalty sent North End to the top of the division.

Afterwards, Neil insisted that he was happy with his club’s decision.

“I can tell you that I love working with this group of players,” he said.

“They are a special bunch and we want to try to keep doing what we are doing.

“I can’t control rumours and speculation but I can put a statement out to put it to bed.

“There is nothing to talk about. I am Preston North End manager. I love being here, I love working with my team and we crack on.

“I’ve been a manager for seven, eight years and when you’re hot, you’re hot, when you’re not, you’re not. In a couple of weeks people will be saying how hopeless I am.”

The only goal in London on Sunday was scored from the penalty spot by skipper Gallagher, who was substituted last week after only 29 minutes but came on in the first half this week returned from the bench.

“The one thing me and my players have got is complete trust in each other,” Neil said. “The fact that I took him off only means that I got the team selection wrong. Today he comes on and gets the winner for us. That’s why we are a team, not a group of individuals.

“I thought we were good value for the win, I thought we were the better side, created the better chances. That was a tough game and we did well to win it.”

He also played down the significance of leading the table, adding: “We’re really pleased with our start but nothing’s won after 15 games.”

Charlton boss Lee Bowyer had no complaints about the penalty award or Preston’s persistent running down of the clock as players went down injured.

“That’s managing the game, isn’t it?” he said. “They’re an experienced side who have been in that situation a lot. So yes, it can be frustrating but maybe we’ve got to learn to start doing that ourselves. The players are too honest but that comes with experience.

“It was a penalty. One of our most experienced players has made the wrong decision. A draw would probably have been a fair result but we will learn.

“On clear-cut chances I would have said it was quite even. But we were sloppy in possession, probably the worst we’ve been. We normally pass and we move. Today we gave the ball away a lot. A frustrating day.”