New-look PNE midfield impresses

Jack King

Jack King

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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson was pleased with how a new-look midfield system worked in the Lilywhites’ victory over Halifax Town last night.

Grayson picked a diamond-shape engine room, Jack King operating in a holding role, Josh Brownhill and Neil Kilkenny in front of him, with Paul Gallagher at the forward point.

It worked well as North End bossed the first half and went two goals to the good through Andy Little and Brownhill.

Halifax halved the deficit just before the interval and looked the better side in the second period as Grayson rang the changes to give his full squad a work out.

PNE withstood some late pressure to hold on to the 2-1 win – their third victory in four pre-season outings.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “It was a good game and is exactly why you have this sort of pre-season friendly.

“Halifax did really well last season, hence why we came over to play them.

“In the first half we played some really good football, probably the best we have played for quite a while - certainly in pre-season and some of last season as well.

“We played with a diamond shape in midfield, something a bit different, and we had the movement, rotation and quality.

“If it hadn’t been for their keeper being in sparkling form we could have been four or five goals up at half-time.

“It was a good fitness exercise but a good chance to have a look at different things.

“We are having a look at different systems because you might need to change during the season. “We hadn’t played the diamond very often but we had the personnel to effect the game in that system

“There was some good combination play, we passed the ball with a purpose, not just keeping it for the sake of it.

“We played quick one touch and two-touch football, created decent chances, we hit the woodwork and their keeper made some good saves.

“That first half was very pleasing.”

Little’s opener came from a free-kick routine, justice done as it should have been a penalty when Brownhill was fouled.

“The first goal should have been a penalty in the first place, the foul was inside in the box,” said Grayson.

“But we showed good improvisation with the free-kick and Andy reacted well to score.

“It is good that the strikers are getting among the goals.

“The second goal by Josh was excellent, he is playing with a lot of confidence.

“The young lad is maturing in his game and developing physically,

“We don’t want him to use up his goals too soon but he is getting in good positions.

“He’s a good honest lad who wants to do better.

“We were a little bit disjointed in the second half, it is never as easy when you make the changes to keep the flow of the game going.”

North End were back in training this morning and are in action tomorrow night against Morecambe at the Globe Arena (7.30pm).

n Match report on Page 94