Alex Neil was a happy man after facing Newcastle United, the Championship boss believing that his team had had the edge against Premier League Newcastle.

Replacing new Sunderland boss Simon Grayson, Alex Neil took charge in his first Preston home match and thought his players ‘opened a really good team up and created chances’.

Om the other hand, with only 22 days to go until the Premier League season kicks off for Newcastle, Rafa Benitez had admitted ‘it wasn’t the best’.

A bright opening and goal by Mitrovic quickly fizzled out and two poor looking teams played out the last hour or more of the match, with the home side deservedly getting an equaliser.

Alex Neil says ‘I don’t think anyone would have grumbled had we gone on and won the game’ and it is hard to disagree with that.

Newcastle weren’t terrible, just no better than a poor second tier side.

Results aren’t everything (anything?) in pre-season but you do look for glimpses of extra quality and spark but there wasn’t much of either for Newcastle today.

Whilst Rafa clearly wants a new goalkeeper, it is at the other end where things look most pressing, Gayle did show the odd moment in the second half but he can’t do it all on his own, plus he is somebody who more gets on the end of things rather than beating a couple of players and scoring.

Another striker and a midfielder/Number 10 who can score and create, look to be essentials on today’s performance (and much of the one at Hearts eight days ago).

Alex Neil:

“I thought it was a good game.

“I didn’t there was a lot in the game and I was really pleased with our lads to adopt a different style.

“I think at the start of the match in the first 15 minutes we looked a bit tentative and a bit scared because we were playing Newcastle, but then I thought we grew in confidence as the first half wore on, and I thought our best spell was leading up to half-time really.

“At the start of the second half, I thought that confidence was displayed then as well.

“Obviously when you make changes, the game changes a little bit but all in all, I thought our boys did great.

“It’s about being brave enough to play against good players, no disrespect to the teams we’ve played but we are playing against international players that have got real quality but I thought we more than held our own.

“It was a big step-up in opposition for us but it finished one each and to be honest, I don’t think anyone would have grumbled had we gone on and won the game.

“We opened a really good team up and created chances.”

Preston 1 Newcastle 1

Saturday 22 July 3pm

Goals:

Newcastle: Mitrovic 8

Preston: Barkhuizen 33

Newcastle United:

Elliot (Darlow 46 (Woodman 70)), Dummett (Clark 46), Mbemba, Lejeune (Manquillo 76), Hanley (Yedlin 46), Shelvey (Hayden 46), Diame (Colback 46), De Jong (Roberts 62), Aarons (Murphy 46), Atsu (Perez 46), Mitrovic (Gayle 46)

Crowd: 7,380 (approx 3,000 Newcastle)

Referee: Jon Moss