Match-winner Jack King admitted that Preston North End had only been ‘average’ during their victory over Oldham.
King’s fourth-minute goal settled the Deepdale clash in PNE’s favour, with the second half seeing them doing plenty of defending to hold the lead.
The win means North End are unbeaten in five games this season, a run they will put on the line at Middlesbrough tomorrow night in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
Assessing Saturday’s display, King felt that PNE had struggled to cope with Oldham’s system and it was a case of accepting the points and quickly moving on.
“The three points were the focal point of that performance,” King told the Evening Post.
“It wasn’t pretty at times and the fans will have gone home thinking it wasn’t much of a spectacle.
“But it is better that we won when not playing well, rather than drawing or losing.
“In fairness to Oldham, they stifled us a bit and imposed their formation on us, playing pretty well.
“You have to give them credit, for as averagely as we played, they played well.
“With that in mind, we have to be pleased that we managed to hold on for the win and keep a clean sheet. For me, it was nice to be back in the team and playing in midfield.
“But it was tough to get tight to them at times. Oldham had the overload in midfield with their three and at times we did not cope well enough.
“Having said that, we took three points and we are unbeaten so far this season, which is a big positive.
“ At this stage of the season, the new lads are still settling in and it takes most sides a bit of time to find their feet.
“If we are not playing well but still winning, maybe that is a positive sign of things to come when we have gelled.”
King’s winner was a late birthday present – he turned 29 last Wednesday.
A Paul Gallagher free-kick was headed down by Tom Clarke, the ball hitting a defender and rolling into King’s path, and he hammered a shot into the roof of the net.
Said King: “It was a good header from Clarkey – he always attacks the ball well in those positions.
“It fell to me and I smashed it in. Even if the keeper had got a glove to it he wouldn’t have stopped it. I’m glad I scored although getting the win was even better, despite us not having played that well.”
A tough test against Championship outfit Boro at the Riverside Stadium awaits tomorrow evening.
The sides met in the same competition two years ago, King netting Preston’s goal in a 3-1 defeat.
He said: “This will be a good test for us because Middlesbrough will try and play around and through us.
“They are a better side now than they were two years ago and I think we are better too.”
PNE could be without Bailey Wright at Boro, the defender having been substituted with a groin injury on Saturday.
Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson said: “Bailey was labouring a bit at the back end of the game, so I felt Scott Wiseman could go in there and do a job. We will have to assess him with regards to Tuesday.”