PNE target another clean sheet for Rudd

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd has kept 17 clean sheets for Preston
Goalkeeper Declan Rudd has kept 17 clean sheets for Preston
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Preston North End will be targeting a second shut-out of free-scoring Nottingham Forest tonight as they look to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in six years.

Simon Grayson’s men drew 0-0 at the City Ground a week last Friday to earn the replay.

That was the only time in which Championship promotion-chasers Forest have failed to find the net in their last nine games.

And for PNE goalkeeper Declan Rudd, it was one of 17 clean sheets he has kept in all competitions this season.

This evening’s Deepdale clash (7.45pm) is being shown live on BT Sport, and Grayson is backing his North End players to put on a strong show in front of the cameras.

Grayson said: “This is the focus game of the FA Cup, the one tie yet to be settled.

“There will be a television audience, which is great for the 
profile of the club and for 
the profile of our players.

“Hopefully we can cause an upset and get through to the next round.

“It is not just another game for us where we turn up and see what happens.

“We want to win the game and get through.”

Lilywhites boss Grayson was pleased with how his side stuck to a tactical plan in the first game and earned the replay.

With a bit more luck, North End might even have won it late on.

That night, he started with an extra man in midfield and only one striker, before changing later in the contest to a 4-4-2.

Said Grayson: “Looking back at the game at Forest, we were well prepared and the players carried out their instructions.

“When you look at the Manchester City-Chelsea game on Monday night, the Chelsea players carried out every instruction which Jose Mourinho asked them to.

“Any manager or coach is the same – you just want players to follow the game plan.

“We worked hard to stop Forest playing. We knew we had to let them have a bit more possession than we would normally like.

“But when you look at their recent record and the goals they have scored against Watford, Yeovil, Blackburn and West Ham, I thought we did really well that night.”

Whether Preston will approach tonight’s game with a similar tactical plan remains to be seen.

The onus is generally on the home side to take the game to the opposition but an element of caution is needed because of the difference in division.

Said Grayson: “I don’t see why we can’t play exactly the same way. We have to make sure that we are hard to beat and well organised.

“When we do get chances to play then we will do so. We will always create chances against any team because we have good footballers in the group.

“If we are too open against any team, even in League One, you can come unstuck – never mind against a top team from the Championship.”

Craig Davies is cup-tied, having played for Bolton in the competition, while Josh Brownhill is doubtful because of a groin strain.