PNE boss targets top six but says a winning run is crucial

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill reacts after his header was saved by Barnsley's Adam Davies
Preston North End's Jordan Hugill reacts after his header was saved by Barnsley's Adam Davies
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Simon Grayson says Preston North End will keep targeting a push for the play-offs but admits they have to get back to winning ways to make a challenge.

The Lilywhites’ goalless draw at Barnsley was their fourth game without a win.

Since beating Brighton on January 14, they have drawn with Aston Villa and Ipswich, lost at Cardiff, before bringing back a hard-fought point from Oakwell.

Grayson’s men are seven points behind sixth-place Sheffield Wednesday and 12 shy of Leeds in fifth.

In the chasing pack of clubs between them and the play-off slots, Norwich were the only winners at the weekend.

“There are plenty of games still play, there will be twists and turn yet,” said North End boss Grayson.

“We have done well this season, we have aspirations to get there but we will have to turn these draws into wins if we are going to make up the ground on the teams already up there.

“We will keep working hard, try to get better at the top end of the pitch – when chances come along, can we be more ruthless?

“You have to earn every point in the Championship and it was a tough one we got at Barnsley.

“We had a hard week with the Cardiff game and now we have to get ourselves ready to play Brentford this weekend.”

The Barnsley game was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination.

A first clean sheet since the Brighton victory was a positive, Grayson saluting a strong team display for securing the shut-out.

At the other end, he thought PNE should have been given a penalty when Jordan Hugill went down in the box under a challenge from Gethin Jones.

Hugill had a late chance to win it, a 91st minute header pushed to safety by Barnsley keeper Adam Davies.

Grayson said: “We worked hard as team, the defence was strong and the midfield got up and down the pitch well.

“Barnsley have some good players in Adam Armstrong, Marley Watkins and Tom Bradshaw, they have wide players who can hurt you in one-on-ones.

“They have scored a lot of goals this season so we had to make sure we put in a strong performance to stop that.

“That was the good part of it, the more frustrating part was not having that extra little bit of quality to nick things in decent positions.

“I’m not being too critical, there were just times when we should have done a little bit better.

“When a game is so close like this one was, you need someone doing something out of nothing – someone to drop their shoulder, come inside and hit one into the top corner.”