Red letter days ahead says PNE boss

Kevin Davies (centre) with Manchester United stars Marouane Fellaini (left) and Daley Blind
Kevin Davies (centre) with Manchester United stars Marouane Fellaini (left) and Daley Blind
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson believes his players can use their performance against Manchester United as a springboard to promotion.

PNE produced a spirited showing against the Premier League giants in the FA Cup fifth round before going down to a 3-1 defeat.

After containing United in the first half, PNE sent the majority of the sell-out crowd at Deepdale into raptures by taking the lead shortly after half-time.

Scott Laird’s deflected effort in the 47th minute rocked Louis van Gaal’s men and a famous upset looked on the cards.

PNE held the lead for 18 minutes until substitute Ander Herrera equalised in the 65th minute and then Marouane Fellaini smashed United ahead soon after.

Wayne Rooney put the game to bed by converting from the spot after goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann was adjudged to have brought the United skipper down – although replays of the incident indicated there had been no contact.

While disappointed to be eliminated from the cup, Grayson believes his men can gain confidence from the way they performed against a star-studded United line-up.

Preston face a different United at Deepdale on Saturday – Scunthorpe United are the visitors in League One.

The Iron are in mid-table but still have designs on achieving a play-off spot, but Grayson was quick to remind his players that they are currently on a two-match winning run in the league.

“Scunthorpe will be different than Manchester United – there will probably be half the crowd that there was on Monday night,” Grayson said. “We have to pick ourselves up, use the United performance as a motivation.

“We have won our last two league games and we want a third win against Scunthorpe.”

Monday night’s goalscoring hero Scott Laird has also urged his team-mates to focus on the three points on offer tomorrow.

He believes the team has every chance of finishing inside the top two at the end of the season.

“There’s no point going into the game on Saturday thinking we can’t win,” Laird said.

“We want automatic promotion – we want to win every game.

“Football is a funny game, I have been involved in the professional game for 10 years now, I have seen a lot of things happen.

“I have seen a lot of points accumulated over the second half of the season.

“I have seen teams kick on, come from behind and challenge for automatic promotion.”