PNE men on a mission

Simon Grayson is hoping to spoil the Brentford promotion party
Simon Grayson is hoping to spoil the Brentford promotion party
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Preston North End will aim to be party poopers today when they face Brentford in a mouth-watering Gentry Day encounter at Griffin Park.

The second-placed Bees can secure promotion to the Championship if they defeat North End and other results – namely Leyton Orient’s and Rotherham United’s – go their way.

However, PNE – who are in fifth spot in the table – have a great incentive to spoil Brentford’s day as a win for them will reignite their own dreams of achieving automatic promotion.

Eight points currently separate the two teams but if Simon Grayson’s men were to return from London with all three points, it would set up an intriguing final three games of the season.

Grayson said: “I would have thought this is our last chance for automatic promotion because the games are dropping away now.

“We go into today’s game looking to win the next four games to see where it takes us.

“If we don’t win then our automatic hopes are going to disappear.

“There is still plenty to play for. It’s the business-end of the season and getting over that finishing line is very difficult as other teams have proven over many years.

“We go there in good spirits trying to be the party poopers because they will be looking on it as the day that they will go up. So we will see where it all takes us come 5pm this afternoon.”

Grayson believes his men can take to the field today with a certain amount of freedom. All the pressure is on Brentford to secure promotion, while nobody is really expecting Preston to go up automatically.

“I think we put pressure on ourselves because we want to win every game from now until the end of the season,” he said.

“That’s what I keep testing the players with – to go out and perform in every game.

“There is probably more pressure on them because we have got nothing to lose in terms of trying to catch them.

“Everybody is more or less saying that it is Brentford’s to throw away, which it certainly is.

“We are secure in the 
play-offs but the pressure we have is what we put on the players to go and win today and then the game after that.”

Sir Tom Finney has been named as PNE’s greatest player by the club’s fans in a poll conducted as part of the Football League’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

The North End legend, who passed away earlier this year, collected 97% of the vote – the biggest margin of any Football League club – well ahead of Alex Bruce and Alan Kelly senior.

Sir Tom also took 69% of the votes as the club’s greatest captain, to finish ahead of Sean Gregan and Ian Bryson.

But he was not a contender for all-time fans’ favourite – that honour went to Graham Alexander, who polled 71% of the vote to finish in front of Gregan, Brian Mooney and Tony Ellis.

David Moyes was voted the club’s greatest manager.