Boss Simon Grayson felt Preston North End showed both the beautiful and ugly sides of their game as they made it back-to-back Deepdale wins on Valentine’s Day.
The Lilywhites played some scintillating football as they put Birmingham City to the sword in the first half but only had Callum Robinson’s goal to show for their efforts.
There was a sucker punch to come as Che Adams equalised moments into the second half but North End overcame a sticky spell with Jordan Hugill’s 10th of the season 12 minutes from time handing them a 2-1 win and all three points.
“The first 30 minutes is probably as good as we’ve played in a long time,” said Grayson.
“There was really sustained pressure where we passed it and moved it and created chances.
“We had enough chances by half-time to put the game to bed and probably another one as well.
“We didn’t and we then just looked on the back foot in terms of fatigue because they played Friday night and we worked extremely hard in the first half.
“We couldn’t get going at one point in the game but we dug in there, kept going, kept asking questions of the opposition and got our just rewards.”
It was Hugill who popped up with the winner at the back post on 78 minutes, converting Daryl Horgan’s cross having seen a host of chances come and go earlier in the evening.
“He knows he’s going to get opportunities with the players we’ve got in the team,” said Grayson.
“He’s thriving with plenty of game time as well and he mixes his game up.
“He’s in amongst it where it matters.
“He’s a vital component of how we want to play with his strength and his finishing is another bonus.
“It was nice for Callum to get a goal with his head as well.”
Victory was far from straightforward, Birmingham well on top in the run up to the winner having drawn level with Adams’ sweet strike from 20 yards.
“No team can go through 90 minutes of a game and play scintillating football all the way through,” said the PNE boss.
“You also don’t want to be a team that defends for 90 minutes, you’ve got to get the right balance.
“When you’re required to defend you’ve got to do your job, people like Hunts (Paul Huntington) and Tom Clarke love defending and putting their bodies on the line.
“I think we’ve seen Tyias Browning again show what he’s capable of doing and Greg’s (Cunningham) been steady Eddie all season.
“Everyone’s required to do their jobs and they’ve done them well again.”