PNE defender’s rally cry

Tom Clarke wants the whole team to take responsibility for scoring

Tom Clarke wants the whole team to take responsibility for scoring

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Tom Clarke has shouldered some of the responsibility for Preston North End’s lack of goalscoring prowess in recent games

The defender has scored four times this season and says all of the team need to step up and find that clinical edge in front of goal at Colchester on Saturday if PNE are to grab an automatic promotion spot.

Clarke said: “We have not been as threatening as we normally are for from set-pieces.

“We need to be more clinical to push on to the top two and that means everyone – not just the strikers.

“We need to win games, win ugly and hopefully catch them up.”

North End are fourth in the League One table, seven points off second-placed Leyton Orient.

Clarke always has his eye on the table thanks to his older brother, the O’s defender Nathan Clarke.

He said: “Personally I tend to look at it and obviously I get the calls from my brother to say that he is just above us.

“But we are just concentrating on each game as it comes and we are wanting to get those wins.

“It has come to the business end of the season and, as you know, it doesn’t matter how you play really – it is about getting the points and that is what we are trying to do.”

The Lilywhites travel to the Weston Homes Community Stadium on Saturday and Clarke is hoping PNE can erase the disappointment of their last clash in November.

Joe Garner’s first-half header put PNE in control but Luke Garbutt equalised for the U’s and knocked the stuffing out of PNE in the 76th minute. Now Clarke has called on his team-mates to learn their lesson and be ruthless at the weekend.

He said: “We owe them one – we need to probably finish teams off early on, get two or three goals to have that cushion.

“Teams in this league are always dangerous no matter how hard you defend and work hard as a unit. But we are going to go there and hopefully come away with a good result that we need.”

Colchester have struggled with their pitch and have not played at home since January 11 but the state of the ground does not worry Clarke.

He said: “They have had a few games called off in the last couple of weeks – the pitch might not be in the best condition. But we will go there refreshed after the MK Dons game, because it is going to be another important match that we need to win.”

North End were left ‘frustrated’ after a goalless draw with MK Dons at the stadium:MK on Tuesday night.

But Clarke praised fellow defender Jack King and believes that point might be vital for PNE’s promotion hunt.

He said: “We created a few chances and hit the post but we are gutted that we haven’t come away with a win, we have defended well we deserved a goal.

“Jack did well to get back on the line, stop a goal and get us a point. I thought we had done enough to get a win.

“We want to stay in contention with the top three, but a point might be important come the end of the season.”