PNE learned lessons from Spireites encounter

Preston boss Simon Grayson
Preston boss Simon Grayson
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Simon Grayson predicts another tasty clash between Preston North End and Chesterfield tonight, four months on from their six-goal thriller at Deepdale.

It is fifth versus fourth at the Proact Stadium (7.45pm) and an away win would be a huge result for the Lilywhites in terms of putting more daylight between them and the pack of clubs underneath.

In the reverse fixture in September, PNE took a 3-0 lead, only to be pegged back by a Spireites side who threw caution to the wind.

A repeat of the opening spell of that contest – rather than the second half – would be desirable this evening.

North End boss Grayson said: “Chesterfield gave us a great game at Deepdale, we were cruising after half-an-hour and then they played without fear to get back in.

“We played with a real tempo to get into a 3-0 lead but then did not manage the game as we would have liked.

“That night we learned our lesson because we went on to win eight games in a row.

“There is always one team who comes up and is strong, often ending up in the play-off positions.

“Rotherham did it last year and Chesterfield are right in there at the moment.

“They have lost their leading scorer Eoin Doyle to Cardiff but that won’t necessarily make them weaker.

“Other players will come into the team to try to express themselves.”

Doyle was on PNE’s wanted list but they could not compete with Cardiff’s £1m offer for the Irish front man.

Said Grayson: “A lot of teams would have wanted Doyle at their club but once a Championship club came in and the price goes up to £1m it is difficult for League One clubs to compete.

“I would have loved to have had him but I would also love to have Messi and Ronaldo!”

Paul Gallagher and Calum Woods are PNE’s two fitness worries for the visit to North Derbyshire having come off with injuries in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Coventry.

Neither trained yesterday, Woods because of a tight hamstring and Gallagher after getting a knock on the knee.

Said Grayson: “The injuries are not serious and we will continue to assess them but we have to bear in mind the quick turnaround between Saturday and tonight.

“Everyone else came through the Coventry game fine so we have some good options to choose from.”

After 23 minutes as a sub on Saturday to add to a shorter cameo from the bench at Sheffield United last week, Joe Garner will be itching for more action tonight.

The club’s top scorer is still being eased back into action after 10 weeks out but Grayson is pleased with his progress.

“Joe is getting closer to where we want him to be,” said Grayson.

“We still have to be careful not to rush him and on Saturday we put Joe on when we did in order to have an extra striker up there.

“Joe wanted to be starting games when he was walking around in a leg brace two months ago – he is enthusiastic in everything he does.

“Being out of action has not dampened that enthusiasm.

“After five minutes on the pitch at Sheffield United he was causing havoc.

“At times we are having to tell him to ease himself in, we don’t want Joe going in for a stupid challenge and hurting himself in a different area.

“Even before the injury, we were telling him not to go in and do anything daft.”

Meanwhile, there were queues at Deepdale yesterday as tickets went on sale to ambassadors and season ticket holders for next Monday night’s FA Cup clash with Manchester United.