PNE right on track

Jermaine Beckford (left) with Alan Browne after his goal at Crewe
Jermaine Beckford (left) with Alan Browne after his goal at Crewe
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Simon Grayson believes his Preston North End side has got better over the last 12 months and will aim to make it even stronger in the New Year.

The Lilywhites drew 1-1 at Crewe yesterday in their final game of 2014.

Although the Gresty Road clash was one they bossed the whole way through, there was a dramatic finale.

The Railwaymen scored with their only shot on target in the 81st minute, substitute George Cooper firing home.

Jermaine Beckford pulled North End level two minutes later, latching on to a flick from Kevin Davies to score.

Before that, Beckford had spurned two great chances after coming on as a substitute.

PNE boss Grayson said: “I think we are a stronger team than last season.

“We went to Crewe on the final day of last season and got beaten but yesterday we showed a lot of character.

“I think we have got far more strength in depth than last season, some good quality and a real desire to win games and not to get beaten.

“I’m really pleased with where we are and we might go out and strengthen in January to give us that little bit extra.

“I do believe that this group is going to take us to where we want to get to.”

It might not be the moment the transfer window opens that North End do their incoming business but they have their targets for January.

A striker is a priority in order to boost the goal rate and another midfield option would not go amiss.

That said, Grayson was full of praise for Kevin Davies who led the line well yesterday.

That was his second full game in three days and he did so despite getting another bang in the ribs against Barnsley.

“There were some very good individual performances at Crewe, most notably from the centre-forward who played his second game in quick succession,” said Grayson.

“I had a chat with him to see if he could play a second game and Kevin told me he was fine to go for as long as he could do.

“He had a couple of chances towards the end and I really thought the winner was going to come from Kevin.

“As a team I thought we played well on a difficult pitch against a team who have had two good results recently and are a bogey team for us.

“Crewe scored with their only shot on target while we created and missed some really good opportunities.

“I would have taken seven points from nine over the Christmas period and we did that against Peterborough, Barnsley and Crewe.

“But I was still disappointed we did not get all nine and dropped two points yesterday.

“At least we showed plenty of character to bounce back after going 1-0 down.”

Grayson opted for four changes to the side to cope with the quick turnabout, Alan Browne, Josh Brownhill, Andy Little and Scott Wiseman coming into the team.

“We picked a team based on a few factors,” said Grayson.

“Chris Humphrey and Beckford are high intensity players who don’t recover as quickly as others, so we didn’t start them. We didn’t think it was wise to play Calum Woods for a second game so soon after recovering from injury.”