Andy’s so handy says PNE boss

Andy Littles bundles the ball home to give North End the lead over Rochdale on the stroke of half-time last night
Andy Littles bundles the ball home to give North End the lead over Rochdale on the stroke of half-time last night
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Simon Grayson paid tribute to Andy Little after the forward’s goal set Preston North End on the path to victory over Rochdale at Spotland in the Capital One Cup.

The 25-year-old produced a barnstorming run down the right in the 44th minute which eventually led to him to knocking the ball home from two yards to give the visitors the lead.

Neil Kilkenny’s expert volley shortly after the interval sealed North End’s passage into the second round of the competition.

However, it was Little’s goal which caught the eye and Grayson was thrilled to see the summer recruit from Rangers open his goal account for his new club.

“Andy shows great desire and energy – he gets up and down the line and really works hard,”Grayson said.

“He also has a goal in him and it was that great desire which got him the goal.

“He got there and benefited from a couple ricochets and it was great to see it go in.

“And obviously when Neil Kilkenny gets the second, you know it’s going to be your night”

Little’s intervention came at the perfect time for North End as they had been under the cosh for much of the first half against a spirited and plucky Rochdale outfit.

Despite have the lion’s share of possession, the home side did not really test Jamie Jones in the PNE goal and were made to pay the visitors.

“We always knew this was going to be a tough game,” Grayson said. “Any team that Keith Hill has play good football and pass the ball around well.

“They have good energy and they showed that last night in the first half.

“I though we were comfortable enough but we needed to do a lot better in the second half in terms of getting closer to them and stopping them from playing.

“We needed to go on more forward runs and get the full backs involved more.

“We needed to be a bit more adventurous when we had possession of the ball and not be as sloppy.

“I thought once we got the second goal, it became quite a comfortable evening for us.

“It was nice to keep a clean sheet as well.”

Grayson made just one change to the starting XI from the one which took to the field on Saturday against Notts County at Deepdale on the opening day of the season.

Striker Joe Garner was replaced by veteran Kevin Davies as Saturday’s goalscorer picking up a slight knock against the Magpies.

But Grayson fully expects last season’s leading scorer to be available for this weekend’s league clash at Scunthorpe.

“He had a knock on his knee from the weekend and we wanted to make sure he was 100%.

“There was a chance he could have made last night, but I wanted to make sure he is fit for the league game at the weekend.

“I am sure there will be lots of people casting aspersions around about him that we don’t want him cup tied because he’s moving.

“But he is not going anywhere.”

A strong Preston team will face Blackburn today in a behind-closed-doors friendly with players including Scott Laird, Keith Keane, John Welsh and Thorsten Stuckmann set to feature.