Simon Grayson praised a heroic performance from his patched-up Preston North End side in beating Hull City in their final game of 2015.
Paul Gallagher struck the Deepdale contest’s only goal, firing home from inside the box after Daniel Johnson’s free-kick had picked him out.
Gallagher was one of three players who had been touch and go in terms of fitness.
He has been troubled by a groin injury of late, with the other walking wounded being Bailey Wright and Joe Garner.
Wright, a late replacement for Paul Huntington who failed a midday fitness test on a tight hamstring, played despite being ill with a virus.
An eye injury suffered on Boxing Day at Huddersfield, had put Garner’s involvement in doubt.
He could not see out of his right eye after Saturday’s game and was still sporting a shiner of a black eye yesterday.
Huntington’s absence and that of Alan Browne, meant the Lilywhites were down to 18 fit senior players.
Grayson, delighted by the win over the third-placed Tigers, said: “We had players playing who on another day, should not and could not have played.
“Gally has been playing with a groin injury for a few weeks and we are getting him through games.
“Joe’s eye completely closed after Huddersfield and he could not see out of it – some extremely hard work was needed to reduce the swelling.
“When Paul Huntington was declared unfit before the game, Bailey Wright said he would give it a go and play, despite him really struggling with a virus.
“Full credit to them playing and to all the lads for the way they bounced back after the defeat at Huddersfield.”
Grayson accepted that the win could have been far more comfortable than the single goal margin, North End having squandered a glut of chances in the first half.
There was a close call at the end of stoppage-time when a scramble in the box saw John Welsh clear off the line.
Hull boss Steve Bruce claimed it was ‘a yard over the line’ however, Grayson said he had seen footage from a camera behind the goal which showed the ball to be on the line but not over it.
“It should have been a more comfortable win after having the chances we did in the first 20-25 minutes,” said Grayson.
“We probably had four or five really good opportunities but maybe the lads took an extra touch or were trying to score the perfect goal.
“What we have to do is be more clinical in our game, take those chances when they come.
“I’m delighted with the win and it was the reaction we wanted to our performance at Huddersfield.
“We got a response right from the first whistle, the lads played extremely well, pressing Hull and not allowing them to play their normal game.
“Even after missing those first-half chances, we stuck to our principles knowing that another chance could come and fortunately it did.”