Simon Grayson has urged his Preston North End side to launch a determined push for promotion and use the positives from last night’s performance against Nottingham Forest as a base.
The Lilywhites pushed their Championship visitors all the way in the FA Cup fourth-round replay at Deepdale before going losing 2-0.
Even Forest boss Billy Davies conceded the better side had lost, the statistics showing North End enjoyed 64% possession and peppered the goal with 28 chances.
Jamie Mackie fired Forest in front after 18 minutes, but until substitute Darius Henderson wrapped up the win deep into stoppage time, the home side dominated.
Grayson urged his players not to be disappointed by defeat and tipped them to bounce back in Saturday’s away game at Tranmere.
The PNE manager said: “We have competed really well against Championship sides in the cups this season.
“Now we have 18 league games to get to where we want to get to.
“Nothing is finished at this part of the season and everything is to play for.
“Hopefully we can go on a run which will really get us going because we have got a good squad here.
“We have players who can effect games and hopefully we can really get it going between now and the end of the season.
“The cup run has been a nice bonus but promotion is our sole aim.
“It has been nice to test ourselves against four Championship sides and we have come out with flying colours in all those games.
“We have had a taste for it and now we have to go back to the bread and butter stuff at Tranmere and show the character to get three points.”
Grayson described defeat to Forest as ‘robbery’, citing the number of chances created and three strong penalty claims.
He said: “We told the players before they went out to do themselves and the club justice and put on a performance.
“We certainly did that. Everyone saw the effort, commitment and quality to limit such a strong, powerful team as Nottingham Forest to the few opportunities they had and create the number of chances that we did.
“It was an understatement to say it was daylight robbery.
“I can’t hide my disappointment after running around so much and dominating.
“We are so proud that they made a team at the top end of the Championship hang in for their dear lives.
“We showed the quality you need as a group and I think every Preston fan going home last night would have been extremely proud of the team.
“The ball didn’t bounce for us in the penalty area, we didn’t get some decisions which may have gone our way.
“There were penalty shouts – two handballs and a push in Kevin Davies’ back by Greg Halford.
“If you are going to lose a game, you go down with a fight and that is what we did.
“ stopped the ball going forward with two hands. There was another chance which was stopped going towards goal by hands too.
“At least one of the shouts was a clear one for us.
“Joe Garner had a great opportunity which got deflected on to the post.
“To rub salt into the wound they got the second goal which was totally unjustified.”