PNE hitting a home run

Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher
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Simon Grayson feels that Preston North End have found their feet again at Deepdale and hopes that is borne out by a victory over promotion rivals Leyton Orient tomorrow.

The Lilywhites won just one league match at home in the three months leading up to Christmas.

But since the start of January, their form in front of the North End faithful has taken a turn for the better.

They have beaten Port Vale, Ipswich Town and Notts County, drawn with Coventry City and lost unluckily to Nottingham Forest.

Orient are next up, the East London outfit heading north in third place and with a five-point advantage over PNE.

Tomorrow’s clash (3pm) will attract a healthy-sized crowd with Grayson keen to give the home supporters plenty to cheer about.

“I don’t really need to ask the fans to get behind us because they have always created a fantastic atmosphere at home,” Grayson told the Evening Post.

“But extra numbers would be really nice to generate even more noise.

“We have had some good performances at Deepdale since the turn of the year and we feel the home form is coming back.

“I’m sure that our fans will be looking forward to this game and doing whatever they can to try and help us win it.

“Before this run, we weren’t getting the breaks at home and maybe weren’t being as ruthless as we needed to be.

“One or two good results can change the mind-set and confidence.

“Hopefully we can really get Deepdale rocking in the weeks to come and make it a difficult place for the opposition.”

There has been no attempt by Grayson to play down the significance of Orient’s visit.

Victory would close the gap on The O’s to two points, with Preston still having a game in hand.

However, an away win would allow the visitors to open up an eight-point lead.

Said Grayson: “You don’t get any extra points by beating a team in and around you.

“There is no getting away from the fact though, that this is a big game.

“If we can win and close the gap, that would give us a great boost but if goes the other way, Orient will be delighted and will pull away from us.

“The whole group is looking forward to the game and it would be great to get a really big gate.

“Our aim is to put together a run of wins and I keep challenging the players to try and achieve what I know they are capable of, as well as enjoy what they are doing.

“I like to think that we are a better team now than we were when we beat Orient at their place in November.

“As a manager it is my job to make sure we don’t stand still and to test the players on a daily basis.”

The Preston squad will be bolstered by the return from injury of Tom Clarke and Josh Brownhill.

Grayson is likely to stick closely to the side which won 2-1 at Tranmere last week, with Paul Gallagher operating in a free role linking the midfield and attack.