Preston North End ace kept his head, says boss

Joe Garner holds his face after a challenge from Stephane Zubar
Joe Garner holds his face after a challenge from Stephane Zubar
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PNE manager Simon Grayson has jumped to the defence of Joe Garner against Port Vale’s accusations of play-acting in the weekend clash at Deepdale.

The striker was on the end of criticism from Valiants’ interim boss Rob Page, who claimed the striker had made a meal of challenges.

Grayson, though, felt the Lilywhites top scorer had been more sinned against than sinning in the 2-0 win.

It was Garner who appeared to get a jab in the face from Stephane Zubar which resulted in the Vale centre-half being shown a straight red card 12 minutes from time.

“From where I was stood, it looked like the lad has gone down and pushed his hand towards Joe’s face,” Grayson told the Evening Post.

“I would said it probably was a red card and there were plenty of incidents going on off the ball throughout the game, so it wasn’t an easy game for the referee to handle.

“We were professional in the way we handled the game.

“One or two of their players were looking to try and bait Joe a bit.

“He has learned a lot and grown up over the years. A couple of years ago he might have had a temptation to have a little bite back and probably get sent off.

“Port Vale probably know Joe is a fiery character but he has kept his head and let his work do the talking.

“You would rather have Joe Garner in your team than against you because he leads the line ever so well.

“He is a talisman, as I keep mentioning.”

Garner got a yellow card for simulation early in the second half, an offence brought to the referee’s attention by fourth official Paul Kettlewell, as was Zubar’s for the sending-off.

Said Grayson: “There were plenty of incidents going on.

“Unfortunately, Joe got booked as well for something totally innocuous – maybe I’m wrong in that.

“There were plenty of things which haven’t come to light yet. We have seen things on the DVD which on other days might have had a different outcome.”

Vale boss Page felt that Zubar’s dismissal had been harsh on the on-loan Bournemouth defender.

Said Page: “You know that if we are going to do anything when we come to teams like this you need 11 players on the pitch. I’ve seen it again and I think it’s extremely harsh.

“I think someone was going to get sent off because of the way the lad (Garner) was playing.”

Preston’s win was their fifth on the spin, Paul Gallagher on target in the 42nd minute, with Alan Browne sealing the points nine minutes from time.

Said Grayson: “I thought we stuck to the game plan really well and worked very hard.

“To score just before 
half-time was a big boost for us. Gally took it really well, quickly getting it out of his feet and showing he is playing with a lot of confidence.

“We have got a lot of players who are playing with confidence at the moment, none more so than David Buchanan, who was excellent.”

Meanwhile, North End have extended Callum Robinson’s youth loan from Aston Villa until January 3.