Grayson: PNE have platform to build on

Joe Garner, under pressure from Lewis Buxton, gets the ball
Joe Garner, under pressure from Lewis Buxton, gets the ball
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson was pleased to see his team make a little bit of history last night.

PNE maintained their unbeaten start to the Championship season with a goalless draw at Rotherham United.

The clean sheet at the New York Stadium followed the shut-outs against both Middlesbrough and MK Dons in their opening two games of the campaign.

It is believed to be the first time ever that the club has opened any league season in their 120-plus-year history with three clean sheets.

But while thrilled that his team are looking so solid defensively, Grayson felt his men came up a little short in the final third of the pitch against the Millers.

He said: “I think when you come to places like Rotherham you have to make sure you battle and compete.

“We did say to the players at half-time that you have to pass the ball a little bit better.

“We turned over possession a little too easily, but when we passed it well we look like we were a major threat.

“It can be difficult sometimes to go from a mentality of being combative and competitive and then go to a free-flowing passing mode.

“But it’s another point for us and another clean sheet and an opportunity for the players to grow in confidence at another positive result.

“Keeping cleans sheets gives you a platform to build on.

“We work hard as a team and on the training pitch to make sure we have that side to our game.

“Obviously I was really pleased with that again, but we just wanted more in that final third of the pitch.

“When it went up to the strikers, we gave it away a little bit too much, too cheaply at times.

“We changed the shape and went to a diamond formation in midfield to get Daniel Johnson just off Joe Garner up front. We wanted to get him on the ball to see if he could open it up.

“We created some good chances to be fair, hit the bar and a couple of headers went straight at the goalkeeper.

“When you look back at the course of the game, our keeper has not had a save to make.

“They have put us under pressure with balls into the box and other little bits and pieces, but you expect that when you play Rotherham.”

Grayson revealed Paul Gallagher had been ruled out of last night’s match on Monday after tweaking his groin against MK Dons.

However, he staged a remarkable recovery and passed a fitness test yesterday.

New boy Marnick Vermijl was back in the squad and on the substitutes’ bench after missing the match on Saturday at stadium:mk and the Capital One Cup win over Crewe.

One player who failed to make it last night was star striker Jermaine Beckford, who has yet to kick a ball for PNE in a competitive match this season.

Grayson said: “Hopefully he will be back soon.”