Sean Gregan’s exclusive column

Preston North End manager Simon Grayson and the benchwill their side on in the dying minutes as they pile the pressure on QPR
Preston North End manager Simon Grayson and the benchwill their side on in the dying minutes as they pile the pressure on QPR
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Preston North End deserve a lot of credit for keeping six clean sheets on the bounce, a feat which is impressive at any level of football.

I’m told it equals a club record and wouldn’t it be great if they broke the record by making it seven in the derby against Blackburn following the international break.

To get the sixth away to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, was good going.

Yes, you could say that QPR are in a bit of turmoil at the moment having sacked their head coach.

However, they could have had the bounce from the wily old Neil Warnock being put in charge, which potentially could have made it difficult.

Look at QPR’s squad too. Charlie Austin will probably go for £10m upwards in the next transfer window.

Nedum Onuoha, Junior Hoilett and Sandro will be on huge money.

They have a high calibre squad and score a lot of goals at home, so I think that puts into context what a decent point it was for Preston.

I suppose a nice statistic would be to see some goals added to those clean sheets, scoring in seven successive games or similar to that.

That is the next thing which Simon Grayson will be working on and he has the foundations to work from with the solid defence.

If you break things down to what has happened in the past week, it’s been a good spell.

Put to one side the run of six clean sheets for a moment, forget as well that they are the second lowest scorers in the division.

In the last week they have taken four points from two games, one at home, one away.

Most managers would be happy to take that.

The clean sheets are a sign that the team can push on from here and put more points on the board.

To go on a run like that and not concede, shows to me that the players are running through brick walls for the team and the manager.

There’s a saying in football that the harder you work, the luckier you will get.

So if North End continue to work hard and keep going through those brick walls, it could be that they find things bouncing in their favour at the other end of the pitch.

Grayson will be looking at ways to get his attack firing now, while still maintaining that solidity in defence.

It is encouraging that a bit of a buffer zone is starting to open up between North End and the bottom three.

The squad can go into the international break seeing that they have the advantage of a few points more than the teams around the drop zone.

Trust me, players look at league tables and like to do a bit of mathematics.

I never believe players if I hear them say ‘I don’t read the papers or look at league tables’. They do!

If you are on a bad run, you get up on a Sunday morning, look at the papers and start scrutinising the league table.

Likewise, if you are a good run, it is nice to have a read of the table.

I’m sure the Blackburn game after the international break is one which the PNE fans are looking forward to.

Last season, it was Oldham and Fleetwood when it came to the local matches.

But in the space of a few weeks, they will have played Bolton, Blackburn and Burnley.

I remember playing for PNE at Blackburn in the League Cup in 1997.

They were a Premier League side at the time and they beat us 6-0 at their place.

We did win the second leg 1-0 at Deepdale mind you!