'Fantastic' Pickford hailed by PNE boss Grayson

Jordan Pickford saves from Jon Toral
Jordan Pickford saves from Jon Toral
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson hailed the performance of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Lilywhites' draw with Birmingham City at Deepdale

Pickford produced four superb saves in the second half of the 1-1 draw to further enhance his reputation as being one of England's brightest young keepers.

He denied Demarai Gray, Jon Toral, James Vaughan and Michael Morrison as the Blues piled the pressure on.

However, the England Under-21 international did hold his hand up in the dressing room afterwards for being beaten by Morrison in the air for the visitors' equaliser.

Grayson said: "Jordan came in and apologised for the goal because he's come for it and missed it completely.

"We forgive him for that because he kept us in the game anyway. It shows he's got high standards for himself.

"We're very delighted that Sunderland have allowed him to be at our football club.

"The lad has got a bright future wherever he's going to be - we're just happy to have him and help with his development.

"We are grateful that we've had him. What will be, will be in the future, we'll see where it goes.

"Jordan has been fantastic for us and deserved his man of the match award."

Adam Reach gave North End the lead in the 20th minute, his cross from the right-wing missing everyone in the box and going straight in at the far post.

It was a lead their first-half play deserved but in the second period, it was Birmingham very much on top.

Grayson said: "We tried to get the second goal to put them under more pressure but we probably needed to be a bit quicker with our passing and forward running.

"When you have one, two or three players slightly off the pace, you can still get away with.

"But I thought the majority of the players weren't at their full sharpness with or without the ball.

"That is not a criticism of their attitude because they gave it a right go.

"We were just a bit vulnerable to Birmingham's counter-attacking play.

"Our play was probably a little bit slower than at the weekend against Reading when we were very fluid in our movement.

"We got a point and going into the games against Burnley, Reading and Birmingham, had we been offered seven points we would have snapped their hand off."