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Neil hails brave Preston after draw with high-flying Leeds

Preston boss Alex Neil hailed his side’s bravery after they came within minutes of claiming all three points against high-flying Leeds in the Sky Bet Championship.

Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to salvage a point for Leeds in a 1-1 draw against Preston Deepdale.

Tom Barkhuizen’s fifth strike of the season after the break handed the Lilywhites the lead, but Arsenal loanee Nketiah struck as full-time approached to ensure the spoils were shared equally.

And Neil was full of praise for his side’s performance, saying: “I thought it was a really, really hard-fought match.

“I think tactically, it was one of those games where both teams were trying to nullify each other.

“But I know Leads’ strength and I don’t think there’ll be many teams that’ll go toe to toe with them in terms of trying to get up against them and play against them.

“I’ve watched them probably six or seven times this season and I think every game I’ve watched them, they’ve been better than the opposition, whether they’ve won or drawn or whatever.

“I think the big thing for us is you need to be really brave to play that way against Leeds. If you really go after them and get up against them and leave spaces for them to exploit, you need to do it in a really organised manner.”

The visitors could have taken a 38th-minute lead when Ezgjan Alioski was teed up at the edge of the box and fizzed a low shot a whisker wide.

Patrick Bamford missed a gilt-edged chance for Leeds with more than 20 minutes left as he rushed onto Mateusz Klich’s cutback but snatched at his shot which went way off target.

And Leeds were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Preston’s Sean Maguire raced free down the right and crossed for a free Barkhuizen to tap home with little over 15 minutes remaining.

But Nketiah rescued a point for the Whites after looping a header over Declan Rudd and in with just three minutes left.

Brad Potts nearly claimed all three points at the death for Preston with a glancing header which beat a leaping Kiko Casilla but floated inches wide.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa said: “Until they scored, the match had a direction (which was) difficult to change.

“After Preston’s goal, we multiplied our efforts to try to score. After we scored, we could have won the match.

“But we cannot ignore that after they scored, they had some chances to score again and maybe they could have won the match because until they scored, the match was completely for us.

“After this period, until we draw the match, we could have received the second goal, or we could have a draw as we did.

“And the draw, we had a sensation that we could have won the match as well.

“What is clear is that the opponent doesn’t need to command the match to create danger and we dominated, we commanded the match, we create a lot of danger, but it’s difficult for us to unbalance the match.”