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Preston boss hails Irish defender Cunningham

The Galway native helped Alex Neil’s side earn an important 2-1 win over Blackburn.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil (file pic).
Preston North End manager Alex Neil (file pic).
Image: Anthony Devlin

PRESTON BOSS Alex Neil hailed the technical ability of Greg Cunningham after the defender’s goal set them on their way to a 2-1 win at Blackburn.

The Lilywhites won for the third time in five visits to Ewood Park courtesy of a sumptuous strike from former Blackburn loanee Cunningham and Liam Lindsay’s first in Preston colours.

Adam Armstrong’s nerveless penalty on the stroke of half-time gave Rovers hope but Preston deservedly saw the game out to win their third match on the road in five outings.

After the game, Neil was happy with his side’s resilience to deliver a “deserved” three points.

He said: “Greg is technically very good. He’s good with the ball, he can see a pass inside, can lift the ball into the space, he’s good at finishing. I wasn’t overly surprised but it was a great strike.

“I thought the way we went about it was very good. We changed the shape and how we function, even personnel in two days, so for the lads to carry it out was very pleasing. The biggest frustration is the fact we conceded right before half-time.

“But equally, second half we defended well, had two great chances to finish the game off, had a disallowed goal. We certainly had enough of the match to win it.

“I thought the way we carried out our shape, the way we defended, I thought we deserved to win it. We merited the three points.

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“We needed to dig in, be resilient. They are the little bits that have been missing in the last two games.”

Blackburn missed the chance to put pressure on the top six and are six adrift, level on points with the Lilywhites after a second successive defeat.

Boss Tony Mowbray was unhappy after an “unacceptable” first-half performance.

He said: “First half wasn’t very good. No forward passes, messing around in our half. We know where we are, where the surfaces are etc. We played the wrong game really.

“Got some better deliverers on the pitch and played to our forward targets second half and pinned them back. Probably deserved an equaliser with the pressure late on. More like us the second half.

“The team know the way we play, they know the expectations of this club, the expectations of the manager. They have to go out for do it and they didn’t tonight, for long spells.

“I’ve said to them there, the second half, the last half-hour was much more the team that I recognised.

“I can’t accept watching and being the manager of a team that plays like they did in the first half. It’s not on, it’s not what we’re about and we don’t play like that.”

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