PNE boss hails squad spirit

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill battles with  Huddersfield Town's Phillip Billing

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill battles with Huddersfield Town's Phillip Billing

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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson gave his players a pat on the back for battling until the end and pulling off a last-gasp win against Huddersfield.

Grayson admitted the victory had been undeserved after seeing Town dominate long parts of the Roses battle at Deepdale.

But that didn’t stop him praising PNE for coming from behind with two late goals.

Huddersfield, a club who Grayson managed for 11 months, had finally made their dominance count in the 80th minute when Nahki Wells slid a pass from Jamie Paterson under goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.

The Lilywhites were soon level, a wayward shot from Paul Gallagher hitting Town skipper Joel Lynch on the shin and flying into the net.

In the second minute of stoppage-time, midfielder Alan Browne climbed high to meet Calum Woods’ cross and head the winner.

“What happened shows that we have a group who are really determined to do well and go right to the very end.

“They gave every last bit of energy, did not give up and didn’t leave anything out there on the pitch.

“Coming back in the way they did showed a lot of spirit and character.

“We won the game against a very good Huddersfield team.”

The Terriers enjoyed 64% of possession but only had Wells’ goal to show for their efforts.

Plenty of opportunities fell their way but Lindegaard made a string of saves to hold them at bay.

Grayson was not surprised by Huddersfield’s approach which saw them play from the back and build a series of attacks with some eye-catching passing.

He said: “We knew that Huddersfield would have a lot of possession.

“They went to Brighton a few weeks ago and had 62% possession which tells you a lot about how they like to play.

“We started with a 4-4-2, I wanted to play 4-3-3 though, because I thought it would be better for us.

“But I went with the 4-4-2 as I wanted us to take the game to Huddersfield and ask some questions of them that way.

“We changed it just after half-time, went to 4-3-3 to stop them getting freedom in the middle of the park.

“We can talk about tactics all day long but the victory was all about the spirit of the lads.”

The change to 4-3-3 saw the substitution of Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson in the 58th minute.

Hugill had made his first start since the end of October while Robinson started for the first time since returning on loan from Aston Villa last month.

John Welsh and Daniel Johnson replaced them, DJ having spent some rare time on the bench.

Said Grayson: “We left DJ out because he had played a lot of football this season and needed a breather.

“He hadn’t done anything wrong and sometimes you just need to make a change to keep things fresh.

“We brought him and John Welsh on to get us back to three in the middle of the park.

“Welshy was protecting with DJ and Browney giving us the energy.

“The subs worked well, even Eoin Doyle who was only on for a short time, held the ball up well and got it out to Calum Woods to set up the winning goals.

“When you make subs, you want them to go out and effect the game.”