Striker’s happy anniversary

On target: Graham Cummins after scoring against Carlisle earlier this season
On target: Graham Cummins after scoring against Carlisle earlier this season
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Graham Cummins talks with refreshing honesty when reflecting on his year as a Preston North End player.

It is 12 months on Thursday that the Irish striker crossed the water from Cork City to try his luck in English football.

A start in the PNE side – and a goal at Crawley tonight – is the way Cummins hopes to mark the anniversary.

His performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Coventry should ensure he plays in the Broadfield Stadium meeting (7.45pm).

Making only a fifth start of the campaign, the 25-year-old netted North End’s opening goal and caught the eye with his work-rate up front.

Reflecting on his year at Deepdale, Cummins told the Evening Post: “Later this week I’ll have been here a year.

“I thought last season was all about bedding in, then this season would be the big one for me.

“It hasn’t worked out the way I would have hoped but all I can do is play well when I get the chance to impress.

“Sometimes when I’ve got into the side I haven’t played well.

“I didn’t think I played well when I got a start just before Christmas.

“So that is why I was a bit surprised when I got the chance against Coventry.

“It’s always been a learning curve these last 12 months.

“You have to be more clever in English football.

“Over in Ireland you can dominate centre-backs a lot more.

“Here, I’m just getting to grasp the fact that you have to be clever when picking your battles.

“When I first came over, I was trying to go into every battle against a defender, and ended up losing them all.

“You gradually learn when to go in for things and when not to.

“I was pleased to be back in the side against Coventry

“When you are a footballer and not playing every week, it feels tough. You are paid to play football and when you’re not doing that, you aren’t going to be happy.

“I don’t think you can call yourself a footballer if you are happy not to be playing.”

Cummins’ goal against Coventry was his third of the season, following on from those he netted against Morecambe and Carlisle.

He is still kicking himself about an easy chance he missed later in the game to increase his tally.

“I was angry with myself about that one,” said Cummins.

“Probably I was focusing too much on the defender who was grabbing hold of me.

“I was just trying to get him off me rather than thinking about getting my head on the cross properly.

“Overall, I thought we did quite well against Coventry.

“It was a better reaction by the lads than we had shown in the last couple of weeks.

“We probably haven’t had that kind of reaction when we’ve conceded a goal for a little while.

“After conceding the equaliser on Saturday, Lee Holmes went straight down the other end and had a good effort.

“Then there were only a few minutes between them taking the lead and us equalising to make it 2-2.

“If you don’t hit back quickly, the game can easily die and get away from you.

“It’s a pity we couldn’t go on and get the win but it’s better than the results we’ve been getting recently.

“We had to get something from the game to stop what had been happening in the last couple of games here.

“Training on the pitch the whole week before playing Coventry probably helped us.

“We were used to the surface a bit more, although obviously the pitch is not in good condition because of the weather and us training on it.”

Tonight’s game is Preston’s first ever visit to Crawley.

In September, the Sussex club won 2-1 at Deepdale, so North End will be out to avoid being on the wrong end of a Crawley double.

Said Cummins: “I remember the last time we played Crawley and they were top class here.

“We are going down there expecting a tough game and hopefully we will get some revenge.

“Maybe a win tonight will make Saturday’s draw an even better result.

“But if we don’t win, it puts the result in a different 

“Crawley have signed Jamie Proctor recently and he’s a great lad, someone I got on with very well last season.

“I hope Procs does well for them...but only after tonight’s game is out of the way!

“If we play to our potential, we can get something.”