PNE boss will take the victory

Substitute Joe Garner is beaten by Coventry City goalkeeper Lee Burge

Substitute Joe Garner is beaten by Coventry City goalkeeper Lee Burge

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Simon Grayson admitted that Preston North End had made harder work of their victory over Coventry City than they had needed to.

A first-half goal from Kevin Davies gave them a slender 1-0 win at Deepdale but they were hanging on at the end.

Heavy pressure from the Sky Blues saw midfielder John Fleck shake the woodwork with a long-distance shot deep into time added on.

PNE manager Grayson was frustrated that his side had dropped too deep and invited pressure but did not grumble at collecting the three points.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “During the second half we went two up top after Joe Garner came on.

“We did that to try and work their back four but we stopped playing in the right areas and didn’t use them.

“When you have two strong centre-forwards up there in Joe and Kevin, use them and put the opposition on the back foot.

“We didn’t do that enough and it meant we came under pressure at the other end.

“With the league form we have had in the last month or so, the nerves can set in and you can became anxious.

“I think that is what might have happened in this one, we were nervous and just wanted to get over the line.

“We have to be brave, get on the ball, push people out and stop the opposition having the opportunity to put the ball into the box.

“It is all right having the numbers in the 18-yard box but we have to stop the ball coming over in the first place.

“The players have to take some responsibility. I can try and get messages out on to the pitch – I have the sore throat to prove that.

“On the pitch we needed to be more organised and have some leaders.

“We got the result, which I’m pleased about. But if we play like that every week we are not going to get to where we want to be. We set some high standards at Sheffield United last week but did not reach those this time.

“We got three points and sometimes you just have to take the result and not the performance.”

Grayson was delighted to see Davies end his barren spell, the striker’s drought having stretched into a 13th month.

Now he is hoping that more can follow from the head and boots of the 37-year-old.

“While it might not have been totally playing on his mind, strikers want to get goals,” said Grayson.

“Some of the chances he has missed have been ones which, on another day, he would have buried.

“Hopefully this one can be a massive confidence boost for Kevin.

“His all-round play has been outstanding over the last few months, all that has been missing is a goal.

“What I like about Kevin is that he gives you something in both boxes.

“He was back helping out in our box and maybe one or two players need to look at him to see what they need to do.”

Another aspect of the game to please Grayson was Daniel Johnson’s home debut.

Grayson said: “Daniel is a good footballer and that is why we have brought him in.

“We played him in two or three different positions to help the team out and he is going to get better.

“Daniel uses the ball well, has energy and the lad was probably the bright spark for us, as some of the others were a little bit off the pace of the game.”