Penalty award was spot on, says PNE boss

Preston North End boss Simon Grayson was pleased to finally be able to speak about a penalty being given in his side's favour after a seven-month wait.

Sunday, 11th December 2016, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:37 pm
Preston North End's Callum Robinson celebrates scoring with Daniel Johnson

The spot-kick awarded in the 3-2 derby win over Blackburn at Deepdale was their first since April 16.

Rovers defender Darragh Lenihan stuck out his arm to prevent Simon Makienok making a clean contact on a cross from Jordan Hugill.

Makienok and Lenihan connected with the ball at the same time, it forcing a good save from keeper Jason Steele.

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But referee Kevin Friend was up with play and spotted the handball, pointing to the spot and booking Lenihan.

Daniel Johnson strode up to calmly roll the ball home.

Grayson said: “At first I was unaware what the referee had given it for.

“But when I got the chance later to look back at the replay, it was a great spot by the ref.

“I thought that Simon had headed it and Jason Steele had made a great save.

“When you see it again, the defender clearly handled it.

“The yellow card was right in my opinion, you couldn’t send someone off for that.

“I didn’t think the lad was deliberately denying a scoring opportunity, although you can’t go up with your hand up like that.”

Johnson’s conversion from the spot put North End into a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute.

He had earlier opened the scoring with a superb curling shot, only for Danny Graham to quickly level.

Graham equalised again in the second half, but Preston dusted themselves down and Callum Robinson scored the winner with 10 minutes left.

Said Grayson: “It was nice to see DJ take the penalty and for it to hit the back of the net.

“I wasn’t 100% sure who was going to take it.

“On a Friday or before a game, you might have people volunteering to take one.

“But when it comes to a game, some might not fancy taking it.

“Anyone can volunteer and take one in training when one man and a dog are watching, I could still take one!

“Credit to DJ, he took the responsibility and finished it well.

“The run-up was typical of him, he’s very laid-back in what he does.

“DJ’s first goal was a great finish, edge of the box with him setting it outside the post and curling it it.

“That gave the keeper no chance and he was probably due a goal or two because he had only scored once before this season.”

Grayson admitted that the second equaliser for Rovers had caused a re-think in terms of tactics and substitutions.

With PNE on the back foot and getting over-run in the middle of the pitch, Grayson had Alan Browne preparing to come on.

Before that change could be made, the visitors made it 2-2 and PNE had to switch course in terms of a response.

“You felt a lot of chances were going their way and we were about to change things, put an extra body in midfield to shore-up that area of the pitch where Marvin Emnes was getting a lot of joy,” said Grayson.

“That plan went out of the window when Blackburn scored.

“We changed things around, put Ben Pringle on with Callum Robinson going up the middle.

“We thought Callum would cause them problems with the way he was dropping off into little pockets of space, that proved to be the case.”