PNE manager’s rally cry

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Upbeat Simon Grayson has shrugged off the disappointment of his first defeat as Preston North End boss

North End were beaten 1-0 by Brentford at Griffin Park on Gentry Day, going down to a 94th-minute penalty from Sam Saunders.

John Welsh

John Welsh

There was some controversy about the award of the last-gasp spot-kick after Saunders went to ground as he tried to find a path between John Mousinho and Stuart Beavon.

Grayson described it as a ‘really soft penalty’ and wondered out loud whether it would have been given at the other end had a PNE player tumbled in the box.

But while lamenting the defeat, which halted North End’s five-game unbeaten run, he took plenty of positives from the outing to West London.

Grayson said: “I thought we defended well, the shape of the team was good.

“Brentford put a lot of bodies into the box at set-pieces, and I thought that was the only way they were going to score in the second half.

“We altered our shape in the second half to match up their three in the middle of the park.

“I thought we dominated large parts of the play but without really threatening them.

“We can be pleased with how we worked against a team at the top of the division who are looking to get promoted.

“The players can be happy with the performance, although obviously the result was disappointing.

“Brentford are a tough side to play against. They get the ball up to Clayton Donaldson quickly and get people around him to keep the second ball alive. Out of my first five games, four have been away against Swindon, MK Dons, Notts County and Brentford, who are all at the top end of the division.

“It’s not been easy, but the lads have shown they are good players and a match for anyone in this division.

“I just wish the season would go on for another 15 or 20 games so we would be right up there in the mix.

“We have good enough players to do that.”

Turning his focus on to the penalty decision, Grayson admitted to a real sense of injustice.

It was the first goal North End had conceded since the second minute of the clash at MK Dons.

Said Grayson: “It looked a really soft penalty.

“Over the course of the game, one or two of the Brentford players had gone down quite easily.

“One of their players had already been booked for diving.

“I’m not quite sure if we would have got it at the other end.

“When I spoke to the referee at the end he said two of our players came together with one of their players and he went down.

“John Mousinho says he came together with their lads but got the ball first and it fell to someone else who cleared it.”

Meanwhile, North End are facing an anxious wait over the fitness of skipper John Welsh, who hobbled out of the contest with a foot injury.

The midfielder lasted only 35 minutes after taking a series of painful blows, and he left the ground on crutches.