FA Cup rotation illustrates PNE squad strength

Josh Brownhill
Josh Brownhill
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson was pleased with how a minor spot of squad rotation worked out for the FA Cup win over Havant and Waterlooville.

Grayson made four changes as he balanced the need to put out a strong starting XI while, at the same time, giving some of his regulars a rest.

There was a first start for more than a month for young midfielder Josh Brownhill.

Kevin Davies started only his second game this season, while there were returns to the side for Jack King and Callum Robinson, who had both been on the bench in the previous game against Swindon.

North End were able to get past Havant without the need to start Joe Garner, Neil Kilkenny, Chris Humphrey and John Welsh.

Kilkenny came on as a 72nd-minute substitute but Garmer, Humphrey and Welsh spent the night on the bench with one eye on Saturday’s league game against Bradford at Deepdale.

Grayson said: “We picked a side to do a job and it did that in a professional manner.

“We gave one or two players the opportunity to get some game time under their belts which will assist everyone.

“But we still wanted to pick a strong side because the FA Cup is a fabulous competition and we want to go as far as we can in it.

“The players who came into the team have played a lot of football for us.

“I don’t think the side was weakened by any stretch of the imagination. Some players needed a game – Kevin Davies did well up front.”

Davies’ only start this season before Monday night had come in the Capital One Cup at Rochdale in August.

He had come off the bench in 10 other games, either side of being sidelined for a month by a broken rib.

Having started most games in the first two months of the campaign, Brownhill had found himself on the bench for the last few weeks.

The 18-year-old came on as a substitute at Swindon, with the start at Havant being his first since the 4-2 victory over Colchester on October 4.

While North End now face the winners of Shrewsbury and Walsall, PNE youngster Nick Anderton will be looking to make further FA Cup progress with Gateshead.

The 18-year-old defender is on loan at the Conference side and helped them to a 4-0 win over Norton United in the first round last Saturday.

Gateshead now have a home tie with Warrington Town in the second round next 

Anderton, who joined The Heed on a 30-day youth loan earlier this month, has played three games for them.

His debut came in a 2-1 victory at Aldershot, followed by the win over Norton.

Then on Tuesday night he was in the side which drew 3-3 with Lincoln City.

Anderton said: “I want to play as many minutes as I can and get as much experience of first-team football.

“Hopefully, that can then kick-start my development as a player for the future.”