Another big scalp in Grayson’s sights

Alex Baptiste applauds the PNE fans after the win at Norwich
Alex Baptiste applauds the PNE fans after the win at Norwich
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Preston manager Simon Grayson rated his side’s win at Norwich City as ‘up there’ with their best this season.

The 1-0 victory, which came courtesy of an Alex Baptiste header 15 minutes from time, extended their unbeaten run to seven games.

Six of those have come in the Championship, with North End moving from 19th to ninth place in three weeks.

Norwich were second going into the Carrow Road clash, Grayson seeing them as a very significant scalp.

“I think this win is up there with the best we’ve had this season, given the level of players we were playing against,” said Grayson.

“We beat Aston Villa three weeks ago but that was at home and against a team who were struggling for a little bit of confidence.

“Here, we were playing a team who had started the day in the top two and have some really good talent.

“It was a big result for us, one I’m delighted with.

“Last season, we responded well to playing the big teams in the division.

“We beat Hull and Sheffield Wednesday at home and went to Burnley and won.

“The players have put in some big performances against the big teams, carried out the instructions we gave them.

“While this was a big result, we only get three points, the same as beating anyone else.

“It was our second away win of the season after the one at QPR and that is a record we want to improve on.

“We are chuffed to bits with the Norwich win but we won’t get carried away.”

PNE now play Newcastle twice in five days, tomorrow night at St James’ Park in the League Cup and then in a Championship game at Deepdale on Saturday.

With the Magpies top of the table and favourites to return to the top flight, the double header will be another big test of character.

Grayson said: “Confidence levels are getting higher with the results we’ve had.

“Even when we lost six out of the first seven, we were not getting too despondent.

“This is the Championship, it is a relentless division and you should keep going into games thinking, ‘This it is an opportunity to win’.

“This month was always going to be tough on paper when you first looked at the fixtures – Aston Villa, Brighton away, Huddersfield and Norwich.

“We have got Newcastle next, who are the leaders – that is another big test but we will keep responding.”

Grayson decided to name an unchanged side at Norwich to the one which had beaten Huddersfield.

He said: “I thought long and hard about doing that as we had played on the Wednesday.

“I was a little bit wary they might run out of legs and not be able to see the game out, so that is why we freshened things up by bringing on Tommy Spurr and Alan Browne in the second half.

“We prepared well for the game, flew there and back and now we get ready to go again.”