PNE star wants Premier League club in next round

Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher
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He slayed Norwich City with two clinical strikes and now Preston North End’s FA Cup ‘giant killing’ hero Paul Gallagher is relishing the opportunity to take another big scalp.

The Scot is on-loan from top flight outfit Leicester and proved his premier pedigree with two first-time finishes as North End sent the Championship outfit crashing out of the cup.

And Gallagher revealed the League One title chasers aren’t scared of anyone as they go into the pot with a host of Premier League heavyweights in the fourth round draw tonight.

He said: “For me to get two goals is nice but the most important thing is that we are through to the next round.

“At the minute we shouldn’t be fearing anyone because we are playing with great confidence and winning games.

“For the fans we’d want one of the big Premier League boys to get Deepdale rocking and try and cause another upset.”

Last term a Gallagher hat-trick dumped Edgar Davids’ Barnet side out of the FA Cup.

But Gallagher was coy about his love affair with the famous cup admitting his striking prowess with the ‘mango pink’ ball is not always as slick as Saturday.

He said: “I’ve done well with the pink ball in the FA Cup but I did miss a penalty against Shrewsbury in the second round win last month.

“It is a competition that I enjoy, every player enjoys playing in the FA Cup.”

Gallagher took time to praise substitute Jermaine Beckford for his impact on the game and revealed he is excited at the prospect of linking up with new striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

But the Scot – who dropped down to League One after lengthy spells in the Championship and Premier League – warned reputation alone will not secure a spot in Simon Grayson’s starting XI.

He said: “Beckford was a handful when he came on and it was good to see Sylvan get on.

“The manager has signed Ebanks Blake who is a good finisher, I’ve seen him in training and I’m sure he is going to score a load of goals. Jermaine is starting to find his feet and Joe Garner is due to come back too.

“We are looking pretty strong in that department but it’s about creating chances.

“Your name isn’t going to get you in the team, it is performances that will get you in the team.

“Beckford showed that today, he put himself about.

“At the moment we are creating lots of chances and it is down to us as forwards to take them.

“As a striker sometimes the more time you have on the ball things go through your head but today it was two instinct finishes and luckily they went in the net.”

But Gallagher admitted Grayson has created competition in every place and praised Bailey Wright for his performance after recovering from a groin injury.

He said: “It’s not just the strikers, there is competition across the pitch.

“Bailey has come back in and Tom Clarke has been on the bench.

“There is a lot of competition for places in the team, the manager has to pick it so he is the one with the headache.”

And the striker believes the 3-3 draw with Chesterfield in September was the turning point in title chasing North End’s season.

He said: “I think last year there were a few times when we’d go in front and sit back and try and hold on

“But this season we score and we kick on again, we believe we can score more goals and we believe we can keep clean sheets - like we have been doing.

“It is nice to send the fans home with a few goals instead of hanging on to a 1-0 win or conceding late goals. Long may that continue.

“The Chesterfield game is a game which I feel was the turning point in our season.

“I said after that game that we have to be more brave on the ball, keep the ball, don’t panic, don’t rush and don’t give them the ball back.

“They can’t score if they haven’t got the ball.

“And I think we have done that a lot better in the last few months.

“The hardest thing is getting out of this league. It is easy to stand here and say we want to get promotion but you have got to go out there on the field and achieve it and that is what we are trying to do.”