Alex Neil lays into Preston players for ’flowery and soft’ performance

Alex Neil did not hold back from criticising his players as Preston lost ground on the Championship play-off places following a draw with Birmingham.

Alex Neil lays into Preston players for ’flowery and soft’ performance

Alex Neil did not hold back from criticising his players as Preston lost ground on the Sky Bet Championship play-off places following a 1-1 draw with struggling Birmingham.

Ben Davies put North End ahead in the first half but Birmingham grabbed a point when Sam Gallagher made the most of a defensive mix-up to level in the second half.

Preston are now four points adrift of the top six and Neil bemoaned the worst performance he had seen in his time at the club.

Neil said: "I thought individually and collectively that’s the poorest we’ve been since I’ve been at the club. So that’s really disappointing.

"We didn’t deserve anything from the game so the only bonus we can take is that we’ve got a point.

"I thought we were flowery and soft, they did the fundamentals very well but we were lacking that today. Performance-wise was really poor.

"For what’s at stake for us and what we want to achieve, to then churn out that performance that didn’t have the desire and aggression that I think it needs to have.

"We have come up against a team who are fighting for their lives and they showed that today. The really disappointing thing for us is that we lacked the fundamentals to go and win tackles and win headers.

"There’s nothing worse for me when somebody comes and gets the better of us because they were stronger, more aggressive and bullied us. They are fundamentals and we didn’t do that."

Birmingham remain in the relegation zone but have lost only once in their last four league games.

Gallagher had an opening for Birmingham after some smart build-up play in the fifth minute, but Chris Maxwell diverted his low strike from 12 yards out wide with his left foot.

It was all Birmingham in the opening stages but against the run of play Preston took the lead after 17 minutes. Gallagher’s delivery from a free-kick was only headed across his own goal by Marc Roberts, where Davies was on hand to tap in his first Preston goal at the far post.

But Birmingham were the better side and their pressure paid off after 63 minutes, with a helping hand from some calamitous Preston defending.

Paul Huntington lost the ball to Maghoma and Maxwell rushed from his goal to attempt to clear the danger, but he was easily rounded and the ball was played to Gallagher who slotted into the unguarded net to earn a well-deserved point.

Birmingham manager Steve Cotterill said: "We are going home disappointed because we felt that our performance merited the win.

"We’ve been playing well for a little while now, this isn’t a coincidence, this is starting to be a good, consistent team.

"I really think it’s difficult to criticise the lads today, the effort they have put in has been tremendous. There are no negatives to come out of today other than we know we have deserved three points."

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