Tees and sympathy from PNE boss
Simon Grayson felt that Preston North End's attacking approach to their visit to Middlesbrough merited more than the narrow defeat they suffered.
With injuries limiting PNE’s defensive options, Grayson went with a 4-1-3-2 formation at the Riverside Stadium.
Chasing an equaliser after Albert Adomah’s 32nd-minute opener, North End carved out some decent chances in the second half.
Eoin Doyle had a shot kicked off the line and Marnick Vermijl was denied by a fine save by Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos.
However, Adomah’s goal was enough to give the home side victory and keep them on course for a push for automatic promotion.
Grayson said: “We could have gone 4-3-3, which would turn into 4-5-1 when Middlesbrough’s full-backs pushed our wide players back.
“But I thought that by going with two up front, we would occupy their centre-halves a little bit more.
“There won’t have been too many sides who played with two strikers at Middlesbrough this season.
“We were happy to play with a narrow four – if they got it down the sides, we had Paul Huntington and Bailey Wright to defend the crosses coming into the box.
“I thought we played well and the only thing missing on our part was a goal.
“If I’m going to pick at things, our set-pieces were poor.
“Paul Gallagher didn’t have the best delivery when, in other games, he had put in some quality balls.
“When you are picking on little things like that after playing at Middlesbrough, it shows how well you have done.”
The Lilywhites started the game well before a strong spell of pressure brought Boro their goal, Bailey Wright losing his footing giving Adomah the chance to score.
Until half-time, Grayson’s men had to soak up more pressure but they came out and were the better side in the second period.
Said Grayson: “At half-time we re-grouped and we told the lads to get on the front foot, get among Middlesbrough a bit more.
“The longer the game went on at 1-0, we thought the more anxious Middlesbrough would get and that is what happened.
“We created some great chances – there was the shot from Marnick.
“That came from a good move, Joe Garner did well to spot Gally on the far side of the box and find him with a cross.
“Gally knocked it down and Marnick hit his shot very well.
“A yard either side of the keeper and he would not have been able to stop it but, with it going straight down his body line, he got something on it.
“Between Huntington and Doyle, they should maybe have done better in that scramble when George Friend cleared it off the line.
“We went for it as the game went on – Jermaine Beckford coming on gave us more pace and John Welsh came on to tidy things up in midfield.”