Grayson disappointed with PNE’s opening-day defeat

Paul Gallagher sees a shot blocked in PNE's defeat at Reading
Paul Gallagher sees a shot blocked in PNE's defeat at Reading
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson felt his side had been off the pace in their opening-day defeat to Reading.

The Lilywhites were beaten 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium, with John Swift scoring in the first half for the Royals.

It meant disappointment for 1,000 travelling PNE fans, some who didn’t arrive until half-time because of heavy traffic on the motorway.

North End improved as the game went on but could not force an equaliser.

Grayson said: “In the second half I thought we might have got something out of it but in the first half we were two yards off the pace.

“We knew how Reading were going to play, they were looking to play out from the back but when we pressed them, we didn’t press quick enough to stop them getting into a rhythm.

“In the first 10-15 minutes we didn’t want to allow them to get into a pattern, we didn’t stop them getting into key areas as a team and that was disappointing.

“We never really looked a threat going forward in the first half, we had one disallowed with the one ball of any quality we put into the box.

“In the second half we changed the system and made sure that the players knew they had to get further up the pitch and get closer to people.

“We created some good chances in that second half, no better than Daniel Johnson’s and at this level you have to make sure you punish teams with those opportunities.

“I don’t think Reading had too many chances in the second half.

“This was a lesson to learn.

“Nothing is won or lost on the first day of the season but we are disappointed.”

Grayson switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 at the interval, that leading to a better display.

“We had to make sure we didn’t get out-numbered in the wide areas,” said Grayson.

“Many times before we have played the 3-5-2 system and it has been a big part of our success.

“Today, I just felt we were off the pace and by going to the 4-4-2, at least there were no grey areas for the players.

“Even then, we were still half a yard off where we wanted to be, we didn’t anticipate things when they were dropping in the box and on the edge of the Reading box.”

North End skipper Tom Clarke injured his hamstring in the 72nd minute.

He had switched to right-back for the second half, and with Calum Woods out for the season, it leaves them short of numbers.

Grayson said: “Tom looks as though he has tweaked his hamstring which is not a good sign on the first day of the season.

“It is too early to assess him properly.

“We knew we needed a right-back and if Tom is injured for a while, it could be we now need a right-back who can play centre-half

“If you are coming off with a hamstring injury today, it is going to rule you out of Tuesday and probably Saturday as well.

“Defensively, we need some more cover.

“We are waiting for the right options, we don’t just want to go and get anybody.

“We’ve spoken to a couple of clubs who want to keep their players around them just for now, that is the case with the Premier League clubs especially.

“They have to make sure they are fully covered before they let anyone out.

“We will keep asking questions and hopefully we will get one in sooner rather than later.”