No pressure says PNE boss

Simon Grayson does not believe his players will be burdened with expectation tonight
Simon Grayson does not believe his players will be burdened with expectation tonight
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Simon Grayson does not believe his Preston North End players will feel any extra pressure this evening when they face Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup first round.

PNE travel to the south coast to take on the non-league outfit in front of the BT Sport cameras, who are televising the match live.

Arguably, everybody outside of Preston will be hoping to see the Hawks – who ply their trade in the Conference South – cause a huge upset and knock PNE out of the competition.

Preston, as the Football League club and overwhelming favourites, would appear to have everything to lose, but nothing to gain – apart from a place in the second round draw.

However, Grayson believes his men should not feel afraid when they walk on to the West Leigh Park pitch.

He said: “In this day and age, I don’t think there is a great deal of difference between the non-league and professional games.

“A lot of teams in non-league are full-time and have great facilities to work with.

“I don’t think there is as big a gap as there used to be.

“There’s no added pressure on the players. They get pressure from us on a daily basis to perform well and win games.

“Our players will be aiming to put on a performance because they want to stay in the team and be part of a winning team.

“And obviously we want to put our name in the hat for the second round.”

Just to underline how strong non-league football is these days, Grayson pointed to the amount of former professional players, who are working as managers and assistants outside of the Football League.

For instance,ex-Blackburn Rovers stars Garry Flitcroft and Matt Jansen are currently in charge of Chorley.

While teams like AFC Fylde and Lancaster City boast ex-pros Dave Challinor and Darren Peacock as their respective managers.

Havant and Waterlooville are no different with former Manchester City and Portsmouth striker Lee Bradbury in charge.

“I played against Lee as a player and when he was manager of Bournemouth, I used to speak to him,” he said.

“It just shows that there are managers who have gone out of the Football League, but still want to stay in the game.

“I have been through a list of all the managers in the Conference South and there’s a whole host of managers from Phil Babb to Marcus Gayle to the ex-owner of Crystal Palace Mark Goldberg, etc, etc.

“Everybody wants to be involved – even a former chairman is now a manager.

“You look at Garry Flitcroft, Dave Challinor and Darren Peacock around here, everybody is looking for an opportunity to get back into the Football League.

“And it’s not just that, they want to be involved in football whether it’s at a professional level or non-league.”

Meanwhile, North End’s scheduled league clash against Bradford on Saturday will go ahead despite the fact that Scott Wiseman, Callum Robinson, Alan Browne and Will Hayhurst have received international call-ups.