Play-offs hold no fears for PNE boss

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Simon Grayson is determined to turn Preston North End’s play-off record on its head and finally get the club to have some joy through the end-of-season knockout.

The Lilywhites’ slip-up at Colchester on Sunday consigned them to a 10th attempt at the play-offs in 26 years.

Paul Huntington battling with Chris Porter on Sunday

Paul Huntington battling with Chris Porter on Sunday

They play Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium on Thursday night and then host the Spireites at Deepdale 
on Sunday afternoon (12.15pm).

North End boss Grayson understands the negative feelings which supporters have about the play-offs, given the club’s history.

He himself sampled the disappointment a year ago with PNE when they lost at the semi-final final stage to Rotherham.

So it could very well be about working on the mind-set as much an anything before going head-to-head with Paul Cook’s Chesterfield.

Grayson said: “People will question our record in the play-offs but records are there to be broken.

“I did say in the build-up to the Colchester game that if we were not unfortunate not to go up automatically, then we should embrace the play-offs and be confident.

“We have a good group here.

“You don’t finish with the number of points, the number of goals and the number of wins we did, without being a good team.

“I have no doubt that we are a good team.

“We have to go into the play-offs excited by them, not be fearful.

“The supporters might be fearful, which is understandable, but the players won’t be allowed to do that.

“There is always a lot of talk about going into the play-offs with momentum.

“I think we still have momentum because Colchester was our first defeat for 19 matches. So we will 
use the play-offs as a motivation to get Sunday out of our systems and go on to get promoted.

“There is this second chance for us and it is up to us to take that.

“It is going to be a quick turnaround between 
matches.

“Today will be about recovery, tomorrow we will get the work into them and then Thursday is game day.

“When games come quickly it is about getting the right amount of work done and being in the best possible shape.”

Grayson admitted that defeat to Colchester, which saw automatic promotion taken away from PNE, was one of the lowest points of his managerial career.

Having been second in the table for two months and at one stage having a five-point lead over MK Dons, being pegged back on the last day of the regular season was a bitter pill to swallow.

“It was probably one of my worst days as a manager, to be honest,” said Grayson.

“The opportunity to get promoted automatically on the last day was one we wanted to take and it would have made for a great occasion.

“I have to pick myself up and pick the players up – I’m a strong character.

“I have suffered disappointment before as a manager and player.

“We have to make sure we bounce back quickly.

“I’m as disappointed as everyone else but we have to dust ourselves down and go again.”

Grayson reported no injuries from the Colchester game.

But he might well be tempted to change one or two things round when it comes to his team selection for Chesterfield.