Lawro backs PNE for Championship berth

Daniel Johnson has impressed Mark Lawrenson (above)
Daniel Johnson has impressed Mark Lawrenson (above)
Have your say

Former Preston North End defender Mark Lawrenson is confident his home-town club can finish the job and be promoted at Colchester on Sunday.

PNE head to Essex in search of three points which would guarantee a second-place finish regardless of rivals MK Dons’ result against Yeovil.

They will be backed by 3,000 supporters at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, while thousands more will follow their progress back in Lancashire.

Lawrenson told the Evening Post: “I have been impressed with the way we have come back after the Gillingham and Port Vale draws.

“We came away from those thinking, ‘Oh God, we are going to blow it’.

“Every credit though, they have responded by winning the last two games and there is a lot of belief in the squad.

“I get the impression that the team spirit and camaraderie is very good.

“We still have to win another game of football and Colchester are fighting for their lives.

“But at least that way, we should get an open game of football which might suit.

“The fact that Colchester played on Tuesday night might be in our favour.

“We will have 3,000 fans there, probably more, I can’t go unfortunately because I’m at a wedding – such is life.”

Lawrenson played 77 games for Preston as a youngster, his debut coming just over 40 years ago in April 1975.

He is a regular visitor to Deepdale and has been impressed with what he has seen from PNE this season.

“We have gone 18 games unbeaten and now need one more win,” said Lawrenson.

“I think they have been good this year – the signing of Daniel Johnson was a masterstroke.

“He has given the team a bit more guile, a bit of cleverness and a few goals.

“We have just become a bit more of an attacking team since Johnson came, which has made a difference.

“The team always look like they have got a goal in them, Jermaine Beckford has come good and Joe Garner is playing well and scoring.

“I think the goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has been a good signing too.

“Johnstone is a safe pair of hands and even though he is only a young lad, he exudes confidence.

“There are options on the bench too if needed – being able to play different ways is a good thing. Sometimes you need a battering ram.

“It would great for the owner Trevor Hemmings if they did it. He was on the board with my stepfather Tommy Gore many years ago. He has put so much money in and written off a lot of money.

“With him having won the Grand National, winning promotion would make it a proper year for him.

“You never know, he might give us £20m for next season!”

Meanwhile, North End have warned fans not to attempt to take flares, smoke bombs or pyrotechnics into the Colchester game.

Additional search methods, including sniffer dogs, will be used at the turnstiles.

Earlier in the season, the club had written warnings from the FA about the use of flares at matches.