Simon Grayson saluted a solid performance from his Preston North End side in holding an expensively-assembled Derby side to a goalless draw last night.
The Rams did not have a single shot on target in the Pride Park clash, with PNE’s shape and discipline keeping them at arm’s length.
At the other end of the pitch, it was Grayson’s men who had the contest’s best chances as they played on the counter-attack.
Paul Gallagher, Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson had shots saved by home keeper Scott Carson.
Lilywhites manager Grayson said: “I would probably have taken that result before kick-off.
“We knew Derby would come at us in first 10-15 minutes, we had to cope with that and we also knew that as the game went on, the crowd would get anxious and would give us the chance to play.
“I was really pleased with the players because it was a difficult place to get a result at.
“Derby have some very talented players but we stuck to a game plan which we had worked on for the last few days.
“Everyone who was asked to do certain jobs, did them, we played a little bit differently to how we have done this season with Adam Reach just off Joe Garner.
“We had a diamond in the midfield with the three centre-halves behind them - we knew Derby would have rotation in there and we didn’t mind the ball going out wide because we have the big lads in the middle to deal with crosses.
“The effort the players put in was unbelievable, the quality we had at times when we passed it around was very good.
“Probably the only thing we had missing was a little bit of clinical edge which we have talked about many times this season.
“We had the chances, their keeper had saves to make but our keeper didn’t have to one to make all game.
“We have taken points off all the top six teams this season and the lads are enjoying testing themselves against very good players.
“Certain football clubs have stand-out individuals but we are a collective football team, we work hard for each other.
“If someone gets caught out of position, others will fill in for them.”
Anders Lindegaard made his North End debut and while he did not have a shot to deal with, the Dane’s command of the box was impressive.
Said Grayson: “You wouldn’t have thought that the defence and goalkeeper had never played together before because the understanding was very good.
“The lads in front of Anders limited Derby to not having a shot on target.
“When the ball came into the box, Anders came out for it, he was very composed and calm.”
The one negative from last night was a 10th booking of the season for midfielder Pearson which triggers a two-game suspension.
Nine of this yellow cards came during his loan spell at Barnsley in the first-half of the campaign.
He was cautioned together with Rams midfielder George Thorne after a flare-up in midfield after a foul on Joe Garner went unpunished.
“We knew Ben was on nine yellows when he came here,” said Grayson.
“I think the referee got the decision wrong in the first place because it was a foul on Garns.
“Then it spilled over and Ben made a crunching tackle.
“It gives someone else an opportunity, we have a good squad.”