PNE boss throws down gauntlet

Josh Brownhill (left) shows his disappointment at Huddersfield
Josh Brownhill (left) shows his disappointment at Huddersfield
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Simon Grayson has demanded a big response from his Preston North End players against Hull City this afternoon to make up for Boxing Day’s sorry show at Huddersfield.

A promising opening spell at the John Smith’s Stadium gave way to the Lilywhites’ poorest display since their return to the Championship.

The 3-1 defeat could have been much heavier as the Terriers carved PNE’s defence open a number of times in the second half.

North End manager Grayson said: “Sometimes when you lose, it is in an acceptable manner.

“At Leeds last week, I was really proud of the players’ performance.

“But against Huddersfield I was not overly impressed to say the least.

“We have to respond to that in a tough game against Hull.

“They are at a different level, with them trying to get back into the Premier League, but I want to see a reaction.

“Whatever team I put out against Hull, no one from Boxing Day could have any complaints if they are out of the side.”

Steve Bruce’s Tigers arrive at Deepdale (3pm) in third place, fresh from a 3-0 home victory over Burnley.

PNE will certainly have to up their performance level several notches from the one they produced in front of 2,228 travelling fans two days ago.

Said Grayson: “We started brightly enough on Boxing Day – we knew exactly how Huddersfield would play and we pressed them high up the pitch to start with.

“On another day we would have got the first goal and it would have been a different story.

“We had to stay with the game plan but too many players didn’t do the jobs they are required to and ultimately we were well beaten.

“As a team, we have to manage the game better.

“The way we were so open at 3-0 down, it could quite easily have been six or seven.

“We have not had too many performances like that since I have been at the club and maybe it is a kick up the backside, collectively.

“I was extremely concerned how they got through us in the second half because no one has done that to us since we got back in the Championship.

“No disrespect, we have played against better players this season and they have had very few opportunities.

“It was too easy at times for Huddersfield, we were too loose with the ball and gave it away too easily.”

Grayson is certain to make changes for this afternoon’s game and would have done anyway regardless of the result with the games being just 48 hours apart.

Marnick Vermijl suffered a deadleg in the second half and was replaced by Calum Woods, while Joe Garner was sporting a black eye after being caught in the face by an elbow.

Josh Brownhill and John Welsh will be pushing for a midfield start – that was an area where PNE did not fire – while Alan Browne’s hamstring strain will be assessed.