Grayson angry with PNE’s second-half show

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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson was angry with his side’s second-half performance in the draw with MK Dons at Deepdale.

The Lilywhites took an early lead through Jermaine Beckford and could have had the game wrapped-up by the interval.

Jermaine Beckford celebrates giving PNE the lead

Jermaine Beckford celebrates giving PNE the lead

But they were poor in the second period, Nicky Maynard equalising for the visitors.

Their fortunes were best summed-up when MK Dons keeper Cody Cropper was sent-off in the 81st minute for bringing down Eoin Doyle.

With all their substitutes used, striker Alex Revell went in goal and saved the resulting penalty from Joe Garner.

Grayson said: “I have contrasting emotions. In the first half I thought we played very well.

“We know how MK Dons play so we had to press them, win the ball back, we created some good chances and got an early goal from our pressure.

“The game could have been over by half-time, we defended well, were on the front foot and had the chances to make it 2-0 or 3-0.

“At half-time I said to the players that they had to do the same thing in the second half.

“However, in the second half we looked a different team.

“We didn’t pass the ball like we had done in the first half, we didn’t close them down, we didn’t stop them from playing.

“Too many players did not win individual battles.

“It was probably the angriest I had been after a game for a long time because I could not accept the second-half performance from certain individuals.

“I do not want this season to peter out as I have stressed many times.”

Grayson found it hard to put his finger on what had gone wrong after the break.

“I’m not quite sure why there was the contrast,” he said.

“One part of it was mental attitude, you have to make sure you are strong.

“The best players keep on repeating the good things and that is how you get your rewards.

“I can accept players not quite doing what is required of them on the ball but off the ball, too many players didn’t win challenges, headers or tackles, they didn’t track their runners.

“Too many of them were below par in that second-half performance.”

Beckford’s sixth minute goal came in his first start since the play-off final at Wembley last May.

Knee surgery had kept him out for the majority of the season, with him having made four appearances as a substitute recently.

Grayson said: “We felt this was a good opportunity for Jermaine to start the game.

“I went with him and Eoin Doyle because I felt there would be space down the sides with their mobility.

“In the first few minutes we pressed them well and Jermaine got in and had an early chance when he put a shot at the keeper.

“He stayed a threat and it was great to see him score that goal.

“We have missed him, that is no disrespect to the other players but he gives us something different.

“His movement and pace is a handful for anyone in this division.

“We have had to nurture him along on the way back from his injury, get a few minutes into him here and there.

“Even today we couldn’t go right the way through with him, he got 65 minutes which is a big boost for him.

“I’m delighted to see him back and we will see what we do over the next few weeks in terms of game time.”