Sean Gregan's exclusive PNE column

Greg Cunningham celebrates PNE's goal with Aiden McGeady, Jordan Hugill and Callum RobinsonGreg Cunningham celebrates PNE's goal with Aiden McGeady, Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson
Greg Cunningham celebrates PNE's goal with Aiden McGeady, Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson
Preston drawing with Sheffield Wednesday must have felt a bit like a defeat because the visitors' equaliser came so late in the game.

For them to have played so well and then get pegged back in the 94th minute was a tough one to take.

But it happens, I was on the end of a few of those during my career and you just have to seek the positives.

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On paper, if you had seen the 1-1 scoreline without knowing how the game had gone, you would be happy with that.

Sheffield Wednesday beat Newcastle at St James’ Park on Boxing Day and would have fancied their chances of a win against PNE too.

So credit to North End for a good display which was just lacking a second goal – one which would have secured all three points.

I suppose what made it more annoying to concede so late on, was that it was Adam Reach who scored the Owls’ equaliser.

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The lad did well for North End last season when he was on loan and I’m sure they would have loved him back.

But it shows the difference in budgets between clubs in the Championship when Reach went to Wednesday in August for £5m.

Looking back at 2016, I think North End can be happy with what they have done during the year.

In the first half of the year, they consolidated their place in the division.

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Without spending huge amount of money, they have overcome a shaky start to put together a good run of results in the last three or four months – that is promising for the rest of the season.

They are in touch with the play-off positions and I don’t think it would be impossible to make a push for the top six.

It might need the addition of a striker to make a serious push, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t be looking upwards.

The squad has been given a fresher look with the signings of Tom Barkhuizen, Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan.

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I think they need to be shown some patience, with them coming from League Two and the League Of Ireland – the Championship does take some getting used to.

North End now head to Burton and that is a quick turnaround from Saturday.

It is all about getting the right recovery in between, with ice baths, stretching, a light training session, plenty of rest and the right food.

I am sure there will be a few changes to the side, just to put fresh bodies out on the pitch and have the legs to compete.

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Hopefully, PNE can get a win at Burton which would make four points from the Christmas period which would be a decent return but not spectacular.

After Burton, they can then at last focus on the FA Cup tie against Arsenal at Deepdale.

It is a while since the draw was made and there have been a lot of league games since.

Arsenal at home is a huge game for the club and, fingers crossed, they can do it justice.

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It is one to enjoy and is a bit of a free game, with Arsenal being the big favourites.

Eighteen years ago, North End played the Gunners in the FA Cup and that was a night to remember.

It started so well with us going 2-0 up thanks to two goals from Kurt Nogan.

We injured Deepdale Duck jumping on top of him after the first goal – he’s probably never recovered!

Arsenal had World Cup winners in their side that night and, in the end, were just too strong for us, although going down to 10 men did not help our cause.