PNE boss Boxing clever!

Scorer Paul Gallagher (right) celebrates with Kevin Davies

Scorer Paul Gallagher (right) celebrates with Kevin Davies

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Simon Grayson was pleased that his decision to give the Preston North End players Christmas Day at home paid dividends against Barnsley yesterday.

The Lilywhites stretched their unbeaten run to eight games with a 1-0 victory over the Tykes at Deepdale.

Paul Gallagher’s first-half penalty was enough to separate the sides although the winning margin would have been greater had the hosts put away more of the chances they carved out.

That said, it needed a fine stoppage-time save from Thorsten Stuckmann to prevent visiting skipper Conor Hourihane netting a point.

On his decision to leave the squad with their families on Christmas Day, Grayson told the Evening Post: “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“I’m told that Manchester United weren’t in and they won – a lot of teams were in on Christmas Day and lost.

“You just try and do what you think is the best thing for that particular time, keep the players refreshed and ready to go.

“There is no right and wrong way to do things. Last year we trained on Christmas Day night then travelled to Carlisle and won on Boxing Day.

“It is about how the squad is, who is available to you and how things have been going.”

A virus kept Scott Wiseman and Kyel Reid out of the action yesterday, right-back Wiseman missing the opportunity to play against his former club.

Some of the other players were feeling the effects of the bug but managed to play, while goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly was another who had to stay at home on his sickbed.

Said Grayson: “Scott Wiseman had been struggling for two or three days, a few of the lads have had this bug which has been going around.

“We will assess him and see where we are before the Crewe game tomorrow.

“Our keeper coach Alan Kelly was ill too, so we had John Vaughan in – a former Preston goalkeeper – who I know from my Huddersfield days.

“When we got the call yesterday morning to say Kels wasn’t going to be able to come in, John jumped in the car and came over to help us out.

“He has got a 100% record and Kels might find it difficult to get back in now!

“It is great when people want to help you – he has done a bit of scouting for us in the last few weeks since he left Birmingham with Lee Clark.”

Yesterday’s win kept PNE fourth in the table and opened up an 11-point gap between them and fifth-placed Bradford City.

Grayson said: “It wasn’t as free-flowing a game and pleasing on the eye as we would liked but sometimes you have to do what is needed to win a game.

“We got the goal, had some other good opportunities and limited Barnsley to very few good chances.

“When called upon, the defence and Thorsten Stuckmann especially at the end, did a great job.

“I’m really delighted to have taken six points from two games against Peterborough and Barnsley, both with clean sheets.

“There are things we know we can do a lot better but it is all about winning matches.

“We had some great opportunities to finish it off, Jermaine Beckford had a very good chance in the second half and should have put his foot through it rather than trying to chip the keeper.

“Barnsley defended their 18-yard box well in that when we did get shots off, they were making good blocks.

“Our concentration levels were good, at times we played some decent stuff, at times we could have been a bit better with the ball.

“There have been times when we have played better than that this season and not won.

“With the penalty, Gally is confident in his ability.

“The one he missed the other week was the first he had missed in his career.

“I suppose anywhere inside the ground this time would have been an improvement on the last one!

“It was nice to see it hit the back of the net and hear the roar of the crowd this time.”