No let-up promises PNE boss

Simon Grayson says he will keep putting a high demand on his Preston North End players to try and make sure they finish the season in the strongest possible manner.
Jordan Hugill salutes the Preston fans after the victory at BoltonJordan Hugill salutes the Preston fans after the victory at Bolton
Jordan Hugill salutes the Preston fans after the victory at Bolton

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Bolton at the Macron Stadium saw PNE return to winning ways and kept them in touch with the play-off chasing pack.

More than 4,400 North End fans were there to celebrate Gentry Day, second-half goals from Jordan Hugill and Eoin Doyle seeing them fight back from going behind to Liam Trotter’s 21st-minute strike.

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It was the first time in more than four years that they had come back from a losing position to win an away league game.

PNE are now down to single figures of games remaining and are seven points behind Sheffield Wednesday, who are in the last play-off slot.

The one disappointment of the afternoon was a smoke bomb being thrown from the away end as PNE celebrated their equaliser, which appeared to hit Callum Robinson.

That could well lead to a fine from the FA after similar incidents last season saw a suspended fine put in place as a warning.

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Lilywhites manager Grayson said: “We are in a strong position.

“We have done very well this season but I am not prepared to allow the team to just meander their way through the rest of the season.

“At half-time I said to them, ‘Who knows what can happen over the next few weeks’?

“I don’t want the players to think they are on holiday and have their flip-flops on, or anything like that. There is no pressure on the players from the outside but there is from the inside, because I expect things and make high demands of them.

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“In the first half, a few of the lads weren’t at it but they certainly were in the second.

“A few choice words were said at half-time because we have set standards and those weren’t being met.

“Every credit to them, the lads responded in a really positive manner and we looked a far better team in the second half, helped by a change of system and having more desire as a group.”

Grayson switched formation at half-time from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, leading to a marked improvement from Preston all over the pitch.

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It is a change which has been made a few times in recent weeks, sparking a better show.

Said Grayson: “We have done well in a 3-5-2 this year and sometimes we have to change because the opposition have caused us problems.

“There are a few grey areas when we play that system and Bolton kept the ball well in the first half. We are a flexible and can change the system within the group at any time.

“I felt we needed to get Callum Robinson and Adam Reach a bit further forward to try and work their back four, knowing they had already conceded 60 goals this season.

“That put us on the front foot, we won more battles in the middle of the park and ultimately won us the game.”