Simon Grayson has told his Preston North End players they must show the same intensity levels against Crewe this weekend as they did in the victory over promotion rivals MK Dons.
The Lilywhites boss does not want to see the hard work put in at stadium:mk go to waste when the Railwaymen visit Deepdale.
With realistically just one automatic promotion place left up for grabs after Bristol City pulled 13 points clear at the top in midweek, the battle for second slot is going to be a fierce one.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “The win at MK Dons was one we all enjoyed.
“A lot of the stuff which got us the win had formed part of our planning and it was nice to see things come off.
“We had talked about certain areas of the pitch where we needed to win battles and everyone carried out those instructions, which is rewarding as a manager.
“The game was, in the main, played on our terms.
“Karl Robinson said it was men against boys in the second half, which is a compliment to our players.
“I don’t think he was too happy with his players but, saying that, we did not allow them to play.
“That game is gone – we now have to put in the same hard work we did at MK Dons into the Crewe game.
“If anything, Saturday is harder than MK Dons because of the mental side of it all.
“We have to be careful that we don’t lose focus – we have to more focused.
“It is a bit like the situation when we played Manchester United – we didn’t need any motivating for that game.
“At MK Dons, we had the backing of 2,000 of our fans in a crowd of 10,000 so again we didn’t need motivating.
“For me, Crewe is the bigger game because it is the next one for us.”
Grayson hopes for a good turnout this weekend on the back of the MK Dons win and the good run of form. While the away support has been strong this season, some of the crowds at Deepdale have been on the low side.
Said Grayson: “I’m sure the fans are enjoying the away form and I’m certain they can’t wait to get out on the road again in the next few weeks
“They appreciate what the players are doing – the players and myself acknowledge the part which the supporters are playing away from home.
“It is slightly different at home in that this is a big ground and hard to fill – hard to replicate the same sort of noise you get away.
“We try and encourage people to come down and make Deepdale a hard place for the opposition.
“It is that – we have lost only once here in a quite long time in the league.
“Deepdale is a good place – we want the numbers back here because we want people watching us all the time.”
l North End pair Scott Wiseman and Alan Browne have received international call-ups for games at the end of the month.
Wiseman is in Gibraltar’s squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park on March 29.
That would see him miss Preston’s derby clash at Fleetwood on the same day.
The squad is well covered for Wiseman’s absence, with skipper Tom Clarke having been playing at right-back in recent matches.
Calum Woods is another option for that role.
Browne’s call-up is for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s to face Andorra on Thursday, March 26, in their first qualifying game for the 2017 European Championships.
l PNE have sold out their 1,200 ticket allocation for the Fleetwood game, with the last few tickets snapped up yesterday.