PNE’s flying squad love to travel

Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd dives to save Jabo Ibehre's first-half penalty

Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd dives to save Jabo Ibehre's first-half penalty

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Simon Grayson savoured Preston North End’s 10th away victory of the season which kept them in the thick of the League One promotion race.

The away-day specialists beat Colchester 2-1 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, with North End boasting the joint best record on the road in the division, together with leaders Leyton Orient.

Tom Clarke’s first-half header and an own goal from U’s right-back Brian Wilson gave PNE the three points.

In between, Declan Rudd made a penalty save from Jabo Ibehre before the big striker brought the home side level.

The win kept North End in fourth place, with the three sides above them changing positions.

Top two Orient and Wolves are seven points ahead, with Brentford – beaten by Wolves on Saturday – six better off.

Lilywhites boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “I don’t look at statistics too closely and I was just delighted to see us get another three points.

“We do look comfortable away from home and while there are spells of games when we are under pressure, for large parts we are in control.

“It is a good position to be in when you go into an away game and have the trust and faith in your team that they can get a result.”

This was North End’s first away victory over Colchester since winning 2-0 at their old Layer Road ground in 1986.

On a heavily sanded and bumpy pitch, Grayson’s men produced a battling display to bring the points back from Essex.

“It was a difficult game for us. Colchester are a decent team and the pitch was lively,” said Grayson.

“We went about our jobs in a really professional manner, starting extremely well and creating some good chances.

“Joe Garner hit the bar in the first few minutes and we there were some other close opportunities too. The first goal came from a corner and I thought that our delivery from set-pieces was a lot better on Saturday than it had been in the last few weeks.

“When you have got good delivery you want people to go and attack the ball, and that is what Tom Clarke did.

“Colchester had the chance to get back into it soon after with the penalty.

“I think the referee got it right. Declan made the initial save off Marcus Bean and then with the ball bouncing around, Declan took Bean’s legs away.

“Fortunately, Declan saved the penalty.

“In the early minutes of the second half, Colchester got the equaliser but we stayed in the game and rode a bit of pressure.

“Then Chris Humphrey put the ball into a dangerous area which resulted in their lad scoring the own goal.

“I don’t really mind who scores the goals and Tom Clarke had said earlier in the week that everyone needed to start chipping in.

“The strikers had their chances but others came up with the goods.”

PNE took to the sky for a speedy trip there and back, club owner Trevor Hemmings paying for a private charter flight.

Said Grayson: “It is a long trek down there and we were fortunate to be able to fly.

“It was fantastic support from the owner to let us fly down on Friday and come straight back after the game.

“The flight was 45 minutes compared to five or six hours on the coach, and it will have helped the players to recover for the next game.”