PNE boss demands lift-off

Paul Huntington came off the bench at Charlton on Tuesday
Paul Huntington came off the bench at Charlton on Tuesday
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Simon Grayson says Preston North End must use the midweek win over Charlton as a ‘springboard’ for a better run of results in the Championship.

The 3-0 victory at The Valley ended a nine-game winless run in the league, giving them a big boost of confidence ahead of Saturday’s visit to leaders Brighton.

Lilywhites manager Grayson was impressed with how his side got on the front foot from the first whistle and stayed on it all the way through.

Now he wants his side to continue the momentum in a bid to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three.

Grayson said: “We have always said this would be a tough division with a lot of clubs spending a lot of money on big players.

“We have found it difficult, but in every game we have been in it, we have always had a chance to win it or not get beaten.

“When we have created chances we have not taken them, or if we have made a slight mistake, that has been punished.

“However, everything we did at Charlton was positive.

“Results can boost our belief but we won’t get carried away.

“Let’s use this is as a springboard. A few results can get you up the table quite quickly.”

Grayson was pleased with how a formation change –one which was rather forced on him – worked on Tuesday night.

With Tom Clarke missing because of a shoulder injury and Paul Huntington only fit enough after hamstring trouble to be a substitute, it was a mix-and-match back three.

Bailey Wright had Calum Woods and Greg Cunningham either side of him, with Marnick Vermijl and Adam Reach operating as wing-backs.

The 3-5-2 allowed North End to have the numbers in central midfield in the shape of Paul Gallagher, Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson.

Said Grayson: “We knew that Charlton would play 4-4-2, so the system we put out there suited that.

“We knew we had to be brave on the ball and having Paul Gallagher in there was perfect,

“It was a tough decision to leave John Welsh out, but you make decisions for the good of the team and how the game goes.

“Gally thrived on playing a little bit deeper with the energy of Browne and 
Johnson alongside him getting forward.

“I thought those three were very good in the midfield.”

Grayson says Clarke will not be fit to play at Brighton but Huntington’s appearance as a 70th-minute substitute was a bonus.

“When Charlton put their big man on up front in the second half, I felt that was the perfect opportunity to give Hunts some game-time,” said Grayson.

“It’s nice to have him back, and Joe Garner is now available to play against Brighton after his ban.”