Away record gives PNE high hopes

Neil Kilkenny missed the play-off first leg with an ankle knock
Neil Kilkenny missed the play-off first leg with an ankle knock
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Simon Grayson says that Preston North End’s strong away record could be a key factor in Thursday’s play-off second leg against Rotherham United.

Until a late swing of results in the final month of the season, the Lilywhites’ record on the road was stronger than that at Deepdale.

They won 11 away games, the club’s third best in their history – PNE chalked-up 13 victories in 1999/2000 and 12 in 1995/96, both of those being title-winning campaigns.

North End head to the New York Stadium with the semi-final finely poised at 1-1.

That was the third draw between the sides this season.

Deepdale boss Grayson said: “We have had some great results away this season. We went to Orient and won there, together with many other places.

“There is no reason why we can’t go and win at Rotherham on Thursday night.

“The atmosphere will good over there, a full house, and it is game on for both sides.

“There are no favourites and it is a game which we are really looking forward to. I think that both play-off games so far have shown what this division is all about.

“The Peterborough and Orient first leg was similar to our game.

“On Thursday we have to make sure that we withstand whatever Rotherham 
choose to throw at us while 
still playing our own game. We are going there to win the game – we are not thinking of settling for extra time and then maybe penalties.

“What we will have to be is better at nullifying Rotherham’s threats better than we were in the first leg.

“It is going to be tight and we expected that as play-offs are rarely settled after one game.”

Grayson had the players in for a warm-down session and analysis of the first leg on Sunday morning, before 
giving them yesterday off. They were resuming training this morning at Springfields.

He will consider team changes for Thursday, their run to the play-offs this season very much built on a squad effort.

The one fitness concern at the moment is Neil Kilkenny, the midfielder having missed Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.

His calmness on the ball would be a major asset to call on, should he recover in time.

Kilkenny’s place went to Alan Browne, with the teenager replaced during 
the second half by Keith Keane.

Josh Brownhill will also be pushing for a return after not making the last three matchday squads.

Said Grayson: “Kila had been missing from training since last Tuesday after he hurt his ankle.

“So we will have to see how he is over the next couple of days.

“With everyone else being fit, I had some tough decisions when it came to picking the team on Saturday.

“There will be some tough choices made ahead of Thursday.

“The lads who came on from the bench in the first game did well.

“I thought that Keith 
Keane played very well in midfield, while Kevin Davies and Chris Humphrey looked good.

“We have been a squad all season and I will pick a team on Thursday to try and get a win.

“Whoever plays will be well supported by the other lads.”