PNE urged to keep promotion bid on track against Crewe

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson
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  • Simon Grayson urges PNE to keep up the momentum
  • He challenges side to end Crewe hoodoo
  • North End have not given up hope of catching leaders Bristol
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Simon Grayson has set his Preston North End side a target of burying their Crewe hoodoo.

PNE are without a victory in five matches against the Railwaymen, who visit Deepdale on Saturday.

We are going well with 19 points out of the last 21

Grayson is keen to ensure that North End do not waste the good work put in to beat MK Dons by slipping up against 18th-placed Crewe.

“We enjoyed the win at the weekend but now we have to focus on Crewe who have been a bogey team for us over the last few years,” said Grayson.

“Let’s try and put that right in order to keep up the momentum which we have been building recently.

“As a group, we have worked hard to get ourselves into the position we’re in and it is vital we carry on doing that.”

Preston drew 1-1 at Gresty Road in the reverse fixture on December 29, needing a late Jermaine Beckford equaliser to earn a point.

Before that they had lost four games on the bounce to the Alex.

That included the final day of last season when a 2-1 defeat saw them slip from third to fifth and changed the dynamics of the play-offs.

Before that sequence, North End had won six successive games against Crewe between 2004 and 2011.

Grayson’s men go into the weekend on a run of six wins and a draw from their last seven matches.

They have turned their form around over the last six weeks following a difficult January in which they did not win a league fixture.

The upturn, says Grayson, has been helped by the return to action of some key players and a willingness to put in the hard work.

“We have had some more options available to us,” said Grayson.

“Our players are always willing to work hard and we have had lads coming back into the team.

“The lads are making sure they give it their best shot to stay in the team because of the competition we have here.

“Bailey Wright wasn’t in the team until quite recently but he was outstanding at MK Dons, as he has been for the games before that.

“Daniel Johnson gives us an extra bit of quality, he is another example of the quality we have added.

“In January we did not have Daniel here, nor Callum Robinson.

“Joe Garner only came back in February and Beckford has just recovered from illness.

“Being without big players is part and parcel of football.

“If you think back to when we played MK Dons before Christmas and drew 1-1, we have now got more options and more threats – players who can produce something out of nothing.

“We are going well with 19 points out of the last 21.

“In an ideal world we should have won against Doncaster last Tuesday, saying that we could have lost it too.

“We have got something going – we are working hard, we are focused but are not getting carried away.

“The focus now is getting ourselves ready for Crewe.”

North End head into the weekend in second place, two points ahead of Swindon and four better off then MK Dons.

Bristol City are 10 points out in front at the top, a lead which could stretch to 13 should they win tonight’s West Country derby at Yeovil.

Reflecting on how things are currently shaping up in the higher reaches of the division, Grayson said: “We are just concentrating on what we do.

“If Bristol City were to slip up, we would want to catch them.

“MK Dons and Swindon will be trying to do the same thing with us and Bristol City.

“We will just take care of what we can affect – what other teams do is out of our hands.”