Wembley in sight for PNE

Paul Huntington celebrates scoring with Alan Browne
Paul Huntington celebrates scoring with Alan Browne
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SIMON Grayson has told his Preston players to target a visit to Wembley after their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory over Notts County.

The 1-0 win at Meadow Lane, courtesy of a Paul Huntington goal, put the Lilywhites through to the Northern Area final.

They now face Walsall in a two-legged affair, the first leg at Deepdale on January 6 and the return in the West Midlands a month later.

The winners meet the southern winners at Wembley in March and Grayson wants to take PNE there.

It is the first time that North End have reached this stage of the competition since the 1990/91 campaign.

“We will be very positive in our approach, we have got this far and we want to put in two professional performances and get to Wembley,” said Grayson who celebrated his 45th birthday yesterday.

“People might knock the JPT and not take it that seriously but we have.

“It has allowed me at times to play a few lads who hadn’t been playing and they have never once let me down or made the team any weaker.

“Sometimes we have played different systems with different personnel to suit the occasion and that has worked so far.

“For example, Jack King came in and did a good job last night.

“And the two young lads, Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill, were itching to get some game time too.

“It will be two tough games against Walsall but we are looking forward to them.”

Huntington’s winner – his fifth goal of the campaign – came in the 20th minute after Magpies keeper Roy Carroll failed to deal with a Kyel Reid corner.

North End’s shape and discipline pleased Grayson, although he felt the margin of the victory could have been greater.

He said: “I’m delighted that we won the game, it is never easy going to Notts County – when you have players like Gary Jones and Alan Smith in that central area you know it is going to be competitive.

“I felt we did well, we passed it at the right times in difficult conditions.

“We had other opportunities to score and kill the game off – we played from the shape of the team and broke quickly.

“But we didn’t quite have the cutting edge to get another.

“Maybe we have to be a little bit more incisive or positive or ruthless at times.

“Jermaine Beckford is desperate for a goal, he is a bit short of confidence in that respect but he is working hard.

“We played 4-3-3 last night which I thought would benefit the team but that doesn’t always benefit Jermaine playing up there on his own.

“But goals will come for him, I’m sure of that.

“I thought Andy Little played very well, first off in wide areas and then down the middle.

“His fitness levels were excellent after being out for such a long time, but he will play a big part this season, as will the rest of the squad.”

Grayson was not tempted by a night out in Nottingham to celebrate his birthday and the win.

“I’m getting old so it was straight home to bed,” he said.