Preston North End’s young midfield maestro Alan Browne believes Simon Grayson’s men dropped two points against Crewe Alexandra yesterday.
Browne was recalled to the starting XI clash and impressed in the 1-1 draw despite the frosty conditions.
His last league start for the Lilywhites was back in November when PNE lost 2-1 to Bradford at Deepdale.
Since then the 19-year-old Irishman had a hamstring injury and has been forced to watch from the bench as John Welsh and Neil Kilkenny cemented the central midfield spots.
But after super sub Jermaine Beckford came off the bench to cancel out Crewe’s 81st-minute opener, Browne believes the key to Grayson’s men’s success is strength in depth.
The Lilywhites leapfrogged MK Dons into third spot in the League One table after they lost to Walsall and kept the heat on second-placed Swindon and table- toppers Bristol City.
But Browne urged PNE to focus on themselves.
He said: “I think it is two points lost because I think we deserved to win.
“But we have gone to third in the table, we will be thereabouts and keep focusing on our own games.
“If the top two or three drop points then that is good but we just have to concentrate on our own game.
“It is my first Christmas game. We have great strength in depth and I think we showed that.
“The gaffer made a few changes and I think anybody who comes in does well and I think that is what we have to do, stick together as a team.
“When the opportunity comes you have to take it – like Jermaine did yesterday.”
Browne partnered Josh Brownhill and Welsh in a midfield trio.
But the youngster admitted the conditions did not help PNE’s passing game. He said: “It wasn’t conditions for playing football for me, passing- wise. The pitch was a bit frosty and there wasn’t much grass, so it was difficult.
“But we had to adapt to it and I think we did quite well.”
Browne rued missed opportunities and believes even Crewe were shocked when they took the lead.
But the youngster praised the Railwaymen for their resilience.
He said: “It is a strange one. I think we were on top for most of the game and obviously they had periods when they had a few chances.
“But I don’t think anyone saw their goal coming because we dominated. I think they were a bit surprised themselves.
“It changed the game massively. It was tough for us.
“Thankfully we did manage to equalise and now we look at the posititives,
“There wasn’t much time in between the goals, it was another lift but fortunately we got the goal.
“We had a few chances at the end, a few crosses, a few half-chances but we just couldn’t put it away.
“Credit to them – they saw the game out and got a point.”
Kevin Davies teed Beckford up for his 83rd-minute goal and Browne praised the 37-year-old for playing twice in three days.
He said: “Kevin is an incredible man.
“I don’t think many players – even my age – would be capable of doing that. It just shows his attitude and dedication to the game. Even at that age, he is still putting the effort in. He was great.”