PNE’s opponents on course for play-offs

Nahki Wells celebrates a goal with Elias Kachunga (top)
Nahki Wells celebrates a goal with Elias Kachunga (top)
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Preston boss Simon Grayson felt the seeds of Huddersfield’s promotion challenge were sown last season at a time when they were struggling at the other end of the table.

Grayson takes his PNE side to the John Smith’s Stadium to face a Terriers outfit sitting third in the Championship.

Earlier in the campaign they topped the table and have since cemented a place in the play-off pack.

One-time Town manager Grayson – he led them up from League One in 2012 – casts his mind back more than a year to see when David Wagner began to get them going.

“When we played them last season, I said at the time that Huddersfield were the best side we had played,” Grayson said.

“They were in the bottom six at the time and that speaks volumes for what they did last summer and how they have carried it forward.

“On Boxing Day last season they beat us comfortably, we beat them at home but it was a really tough game.

“Huddersfield played in a manner which made you think something may happen with that team and that has been the case.

“Maybe their fans didn’t think they would be right up there in the upper reaches of the division, but they are.

“Huddersfield are there for a reason, they play an expansive style of football and have some very good players.

“In Aaron Mooy they have one of the key players in the Championship, the lad is an exceptional talent.

“When they have had a setback here and there, they have kept on going and responded in the right manner.”

At Deepdale in October, PNE beat the Yorkshire side 3-1, Tom Clarke, Alex Baptiste and Paul Gallagher on target.

Clarke and Baptiste both found the net with headers from Gallagher free-kicks.

Gallagher completed the scoring with a free-kick which flew straight in.

“I would say it was one of our best performances of the season when we beat them at our place,” said Grayson.

“They were in the top two at the time and playing with a lot of confidence.

“From start to finish we dominated the game and we have to meet those standards again.

“At their ground there will be a good atmosphere because they have the numbers.

“We have to be better than we were at Leeds, both with and without the ball.”

Huddersfield have had a bit of a wobble of late, losing three of the last four.

They were beaten 2-0 by Nottingham Forest last week, that coming three days after a 3-0 victory over Norwich.

There were defeats either side of the international break to Burton and Bristol City.

But they look comfortable in the play-offs and the final five games appear to be about them jockeying for position.

Huddersfield’s top scorer is DR Congo international Elias Kachunga with 11 league goals, while Nahki Wells has netted 10.

Kachunga was on loan from German club Ingolstadt and that has been turned into a permanent £1.1m move.