Sean Gregan's exclusive column

Following Preston North End's win over Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, I have seen the question asked by quite a few people as to whether they can make a late run for the play-offs?

Sunday, 21st February 2016, 5:04 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st February 2016, 6:05 pm
Adam Reach tangles with Sheffield Wednesday's Kieran Lee

Looking at the situation, I would say it was very much a long shot but neither would I totally rule it out.

You would need North End’s good run to continue and for a number of the sides above them to lose form.

The sides currently up there in the top six have only lost a handful of games so far this season – six or seven – so for them to suddenly go and lose a few more would be quite unexpected.

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But let’s see what happens and I’m sure PNE will keep on plugging away.

Simon Grayson will keep the squad focused, he’ll have his own expectations which will be kept within the four walls of the dressing room.

Saturday’s victory against Wednesday was a great result and one which will no doubt have surprised people outside of Preston.

Wednesday were in good form before coming here and have assembled a talented squad since the summer.

Teams like Middlesbrough, Derby, Brighton and Burnley have probably had more of the attention on them, while the Owls have quietly moved up the table into the top six.

They have spent plenty of cash, not in the way that Derby and Middlesbrough have, but a decent amount all the same.

So for North End to have beaten them and kept a clean sheet is very good going.

Joe Garner scoring the winner was nice to see.

Fair play to him, he has kept working hard when the goals were not coming and not disappeared in matches like some players can do if their form has dipped.

Garner is the type of lad who gets back up when he has been knocked down.

The goal he scored against Wednesday is the sort which strikers love – a cross to the far post with plenty of pace on.

He has got a good spring on him and met the cross well in the air with a good header.

Fingers crossed, Garner can get himself on a bit of a run now.

One of the talking points from Saturday’s game was the red card for Wednesday front man Fernando Forestieri.

His sending-off resulted from two yellows – one for simulation and the second for deliberate handball.

Players doing things like that have managers tearing their hair out.

Bookings and red cards are part and parcel of the game but Forestieri’s two were just plain daft and avoidable.

Managers will accept a player being sent-off for a couple of well meaning but mistimed challenges.

If a player handles the ball on the line to prevent a goal, you accept a red card is on the way out of the ref’s pocket.

Losing a key player at 0-0 in a finely-poised game to two acts of stupidity is not what a manager wants to see.

There has been plenty of talk in the last few days about a restructure for the FA Cup.

It centres around calls for replays to be scrapped and all ties to even move to midweek.

As always, such talk all seems to be coming from the top few clubs, the cream of the crop so to speak, and it is purely self-interest.

If you were to ask all 92 league clubs, I’m sure the vast majority would be in favour of keeping things as they are.

If a smaller club plays one of the big boys at home, if you don’t beat them, a replay at somewhere like Old Trafford or the Emirates Stadium is the next best thing – and also a financial lifeline. Why take that away?