Home form is key for PNE

Sickening blow: Adam Barton lies  on the turf with a broken leg and ankle
Sickening blow: Adam Barton lies on the turf with a broken leg and ankle
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Graham Westley is determined to make Preston North End a force again at home.

Walsall were the 10th team this season to leave Deepdale with something to show for their efforts after holding North End to a goalless draw.

That is a statistic which PNE boss Westley wants to change as he looks to make his mark at the club.

Saturday’s stalemate was somewhat overshadowed by the serious injury suffered by Adam Barton in the first half. He dislocated his left ankle and broke his leg during a challenge with Saddlers defender Richard Taundry.

Barton underwent surgery yesterday to plate the fracture and will miss the remainder of the season.

The game was held up for 11 minutes while the midfielder was made comfortable on the touchline by medics, Westley also coming across the pitch from the dug-out to check Barton’s condition.

Westley said: “Adam dislocated his ankle and broke his leg in two or three places, so it’s a little bit nasty.

“I did the same thing myself when I was a player and I think it was four months before I was training again.

“When Adam was being treated, word came across to the dug-out that it was a bad one so I wanted to see the lad under those circumstances.”

Turning his thoughts to the game, Westley saw good and bad in North End’s display, the draw leaving them in 13th place in League One.

The hosts had slightly the better chances but the PNE boss felt a share of the points was probably a fair outcome.

He said: “It’s another point gained but it wasn’t what we wanted to do.

“When Preston play at home, the public want to watch us win – that is how it has to be here.

“This place can be strong again. We need to have players out there who are a bit more sure of themselves in a Preston shirt.

“I want them to be confident in the Deepdale environment, to relish the Deepdale environment – we need to be able to put sides to bed. The players are evolving and we have to show them patience and understanding.

“If we do that, they will get there quicker.”

Despite the goalless draw, Westley felt his side didn’t defend as well as they had previously, in collecting their third clean sheet in six games.

And some of PNE’s attacking play encouraged him, although they have now only scored three times in his stewardship.

Said Westley: “I thought our defensive performance was less convincing than we have been in recent games.

“So in a defensive sense, it was a backward step.

“Although we didn’t score, I thought there were passages of play which showed that the players are starting to get a flavour of the way I want to play when we have possession.

“There were encouraging signs but without the end product I would like.

“We had moments when we could have won it but I didn’t think the scoreline was an unfair reflection of the game.

“Walsall could look at it and think they had a half-chance or two to win it.

“We could look at the game and thought we had some good chances – Graham Cummins and Chris Holroyd went close.”

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