Happy home for PNE

Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne embrace after the fifth and final goal of the 5-2 win over Shrewsbury at Gillingham
Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne embrace after the fifth and final goal of the 5-2 win over Shrewsbury at Gillingham
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Simon Grayson is pleased that his Preston North End side have hit upon a winning formula at Deepdale in time for the play-offs.

Monday’s 5-2 hammering of Shrewsbury was the Lilywhites’ fourth home victory on the bounce.

Until the last month, it was North End’s away form which had laid the foundations for a promotion push.

But the recent surge of wins in front of the faithful means that they have now won an equal number of games home and away.

Since the end of March, they have beaten Peterborough, Crawley, Carlisle and now Shrewsbury at Deepdale.

In the process they have scored 15 goals, 11 of those coming in the last two outings.

PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “I don’t think this place has ever been a problem for the team.

“We have really enjoyed playing at Deepdale, and while we’ve had a couple of defeats and some draws during the course of the season, many of those drawn games we deserved to win.

“To get this place going towards the back end of the season when it really matters is going to be crucial.

“The support is vital and our fans will play a big part in what we want to do.

“A lot of confidence is coming with each performance at home.

“And to score 11 goals in the last two home games is really fantastic.

“I thought that Monday’s win was a great response to the defeat at Brentford.

“People will have turned up and expected us to beat Shrewsbury because they are in the bottom four.

“But they are fighting for their lives and you have to work hard to beat these sides. We put Shrewsbury to the sword as we did Carlisle the other week.

“Hopefully we can maintain this momentum and take it into the play-offs.”

North End play their final home game of the regular season on Saturday when they host 15th place Gillingham. On the last afternoon of the campaign they make the short trip to Crewe.

Both first legs of the League One play-offs will take place on Saturday May 10.

The third versus sixth second leg is scheduled for Tuesday May 13, with the fourth versus fifth return leg on Thursday May 15.

On the injury front, Grayson is hopeful of Tom Clarke being available for the weekend.

Clarke was substituted at half-time on Monday because of a slight calf muscle injury.

He had started at right-back, and with Keith Keane and Scott Wiseman ruled out with knee injuries, winger Chris Humphrey had to be pressed into emergency full-back duty.

Later on, John Welsh switched to right-back with Humphrey moving forward to the wing.

Grayson said: “Tom coming off was a precaution, he had a tight calf. He wanted to stay on but we took the decision out of his hands.

“With Keith Keane not in the squad because he was struggling with his knee, we put Chris Humphrey out there.

“But he got a bit exposed so we moved John there who has a bit more experience.”