PNE pointing in the right direction

Preston North End's Josh Brownhill holds off the challenge from Crewe Alexandra's Oliver Turton''Photographer Craig Thomas/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Crewe Alexandra v Preston North End - Sunday 28th December 2014 - Alexandra Stadium - Crewe''? CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Preston North End's Josh Brownhill holds off the challenge from Crewe Alexandra's Oliver Turton''Photographer Craig Thomas/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Crewe Alexandra v Preston North End - Sunday 28th December 2014 - Alexandra Stadium - Crewe''? CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
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Simon Grayson is pleased with Preston North End’s points tally at the halfway stage of the campaign.

Heading into the New Year, the Lilywhites have 45 points from their 23 league games.

They are third in the League One table behind Bristol City and Swindon, with PNE boss Grayson confident of hitting the two points per game ratio to put them firmly in the mix for an auotmatic promotion challenge.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “We are not too far away from the two points per game marker which is sometimes used as a good gauge for promotion.

“We are in a good state, there is still a lot of football to be played, teams around us are still going to win and will still drop points.

“We are firmly of the belief that we won’t be far away.

“In the weeks and months to come we will keep chipping away and looking to put points on the board.

“We cannot affect what the other teams do, our focus is to keep the consistency going in terms of performances and results each week.

“At the moment we are on a good run, one which could have ended at Crewe when we went 1-0 down.

“But we showed a lot of character to get back into the game and keep the unbeaten run going.

“Lots of good things have come out of the club this year and hopefully even better will come in 2015.”

Grayson gave his players the day off yesterday to rest after the Barnsley and Crewe matches.

They were back in today for a recovery session and to start their preparations for Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Norwich City at Deepdale.

Grayson said: “It has been a difficult schedule for us and the lads got yesterday off.

“They are in today, then off tomorrow, before we start to prepare for Norwich.

“I think the players have conducted themselves so well, they are a really good group to work with.”

For the time being, PNE’s focus shifts away from the league and on to cup football.

Norwich’s visit is followed by the first leg of the northern area Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Walsall a week tomorrow.

Their next slice of league action is away at Sheffield United on January 10.

“The cup games might be a nice distraction from the league for a few days,” said Grayson.

“Norwich are a fantastic Championship side trying to get back into the Premier League, then we go into the JPT where we have two big games to try and reach a Wembley final.”

Meanwhile, the Crewe game was a landmark appearance for Josh Brownhill.

The teenager played his 50th game for North End, reaching the half-century 14 months after his first-team debut.

Brownhill’s start at Gresty Road was his first in a league match since the 4-2 victory over Colchester in October.

He was brought back into the side along with Alan Browne to give the midfield some freshness.

Grayson said: “Josh and Alan gave us a lot of energy in the middle of the park.”