PNE still on track says boss

Joe Garner celebrates his goal with Tom Clarke
Joe Garner celebrates his goal with Tom Clarke
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Simon Grayson thinks his Preston North End side are in good shape with their promotion campaign now down to single figures in games remaining.

The 1-1 draw at Barnsley edged them further ahead of third-placed Swindon, who did not play at the weekend.

We would have taken seven points from nine in a week, had we been offered that before

They are three points better off than the Wiltshire side with a better goal difference, the Robins due at Deepdale on April 25.

Saturday’s share of the spoils at Oakwell extended North End’s unbeaten league run to 10 games – eight wins and two draws – and they have a midweek breather before the derby clash with Fleetwood Town on Sunday.

PNE manager Grayson told the Evening Post: “We keep chalking the games off and concentrate on what we do.

“What other teams around us in the division do, we cannot affect unless we are playing against them.

“The best approach is to assume they will win their matches and make sure we do our job.

“In the next few weeks there are going to be some crucial games for teams in and around us – and for ourselves.

“Hopefully we can get the points we need very quickly from the run in.

“I don’t have a specific points target – what I know is that if we take 27 points, we are promoted.”

The ‘Gentry Day’ draw with Barnsley was a hard-fought affair, two in-form teams battling it out on a bumpy pitch.

Joe Garner shot PNE into a 37th-minute lead after meeting Callum Robinson’s cross.

The Tykes levelled 11 minutes from time through substitute Jabo Ibehre, an equaliser they deserved.

Grayson was satisfied with the point when looking at the wider picture. He said: “We have taken seven points in a week by playing different ways.

“The Crewe win was all about some fantastic football and was a good game. The other night against Peterborough was part battling and scrapping and part football.

“Saturday was a bit similar to that but probably a bit more dogged, in that we came under the cosh without our goalkeeper Sam Johnstone having a save to make.

“We would have taken seven points from nine in a week, had we been offered that before.

“The draw keeps our unbeaten run going and we move on to the next one.

“In the dressing room, the lads were disappointed because they have developed a winning habit and only drew this one.

“But we will certainly take the point – it could end up being a big part of our campaign.

“Against Barnsley we had to show different sides to our game – getting the ball down and playing football when we were on top, and then knuckling down to stay in the game when Barnsley put us under pressure.

“There was a spell after the big lad Ibehre came on when we didn’t show the necessary composure.

“After their equaliser, we got the ball down, were more composed and went on to create some decent half-chances at the end.

“Barnsley are a good side and on a great run of form, like ourselves.

“But they had to keep changing formation, starting off in a 4-3-3, then they went to a 4-4-2 and then to a diamond shape.”

The goal for Garner was his 21st of the season. Earlier on he had been denied by a fantastic save from Tykes keeper Adam Davies.

Said Grayson: “Joe probably could have had a couple more goals but he is someone who is in the right place at the right time and alert to things.

“Hopefully he can get another six or seven.”