Simon Grayson admitted that Preston North End had put their supporters through the wringer during last night’s victory over Notts County but was delighted to be back on the winning track.
A Jermaine Beckford double and Joe Garner’s 23rd goal of the season delivered a 3-1 win at Meadow Lane in front of 1,244 jubilant travelling fans.
After getting into a 2-0 half-time lead through Beckford’s superb opener and a typical piece of poaching from Garner, the Lilywhites found themselves under the cosh in the second half.
Jimmy Spencer’s 72nd minute goal cut the deficit and there were some nervous moments as the Magpies piled on the pressure.
But Beckford’s second goal five minutes from time clinched the three points which kept them in second place ahead of MK Dons who beat Doncaster 3-0.
North End face Swindon at Deepdale on Saturday, with MK making the trip to Rochdale.
Grayson said: “I told the lads afterwards that for as good as we are at times, they certainly make it difficult for themselves, the staff and the supporters.
“We did well for spells, we competed and knew Notts County would battle and scrap.
“At 2-0 we were looking comfortable but they had nothing to lose and one ball into the box saw their lad finish it.
“That put us under pressure and for some reason we got nervous – it is only human nature to do it I suppose.
“We were encouraging the players to get up the pitch and not allow Notts County to put balls into the box.
“They had a go, we withstood it and we were grateful to our goalkeeper Sam Johnstone making a very good save at 2-1.
“That was a crucial moment of the game because we went on to score a third soon after.
“So three goals, three points and two games to go.”
Grayson was full of praise for Beckford, the on-loan striker taking his goals tally in Preston colours to 12 goals.
Nine of those have come since he returned to action at the end of February after five weeks out with a severe ear infection.
“Jermaine appreciates what he had before the illness and what potentially could have been taken away from him,” said Grayson.
“Jermaine showed two unbelievable pieces of quality to get his goals.
“The second goal was a fantastic team move when we passed it well - Daniel Johnson played a great ball through which Jermaine finished.
“As for the first, that was top-drawer with Paul Gallagher’s pass which Jermaine flicked over the defender and finished well.
“That is what Jermaine can do, score different types of goals.
“It was a fantastic night for us and it now goes down to the last two games.
“All along, even through the disappointment of the two games when we dropped points last week, we always said our destiny was still in our own hands.
“The worse case scenario last night would have been for us not to get a better result than MK Dons which would have taken it out of our hands.
“It is still in our hands but we have tough games against Swindon and then Colchester, they have Rochdale and Yeovil at home.”