Ben Davies confident Preston North End can bounce back and end year on high in two big Deepdale games
BenÂ Davies is confident Preston North End can sweep aside their Hillsborough frustrations with two big home games to come between now and the end of the year.
The 10-man Lilywhites lost 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday in a game where Ben Pearson was sent off just 26 minutes in, leaving the Lilywhites up against it for more than an hour.
But with Hull City the visitors to Deepdale on Boxing Day and Aston Villa to follow on Saturday, the defender says PNE are keen to be firmly looking up when 2018 becomes 2019 next week.
They had lost just one in 12 prior to the trip to Sheffield and are 15th in the Championship having been bottom at one point during a stuttering start to the season.
“We’re back home for two games and hopefully we can get the maximum points,” said the 23-year-old.
“We’ve definitely picked up recently.
“It’s alright going unbeaten but if you’re drawing games you’re not picking up as many points.
“If you’re winning, which we have been, and you can bounce back from a loss then it’s all good and the points total is actually better than drawing a couple of games.
“Boxing Day we’ll all be rallying round and Christmas time’s always special so hopefully the fans can come out and enjoy a home game this year.
“With Aston Villa to come if we can do well between now and the end of the year then we’re looking up which is where we feel we should be.
“Saturday was only one result.”
It will be a patched-up side that battles through this hectic schedule.
Striker Louis Moult limped off in South Yorkshire as his return from a hamstring injury lasted just the 47 minutes.
Alan Browne, who boss Alex Neil had hoped to rest, was forced into action off the bench in place of the former Motherwell man and got through pleny of work in the second half.
Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell had earlier hobbled out of the warm-up with a sore knee, captain Tom Clarke also missing the game due to breathing difficulties caused by his broken nose.
Neil is keen to strengthen when the window opens on January 1 but until then, will have to make do with a threadbare squad.
“We are dropping like flies at the moment and seem to be getting one back and then someone else is dropping out,” said Davies.
“We just need to bandage ourselves up and get through this Christmas period.
“We’ll keep battling and fighting.
“When people have been needed they’ve done well so we have got lads that can come it but it’s frustrating because we start to get a settled team and then someone has to drop out.
“It’s no-one’s fault and we’ve just got to keep going.”
They certainly battled on at Hillsborough on Saturday only to be undone by Michael Hector’s second-half header, a disappointing goal to concede for the visitors in a game where the struggling hosts just about made their numerical advantage count.
It was a rare defeat for PNE in recent weeks though and one Davies insists they can move on from swiftly.
“I feel like when we’ve been down to 10 men in the past we’ve been alright,” he said.
“We’ve been quite difficult to beat and I think it was the same on Saturday.
“But in the games where you do go down to 10 men it feels like you can’t really look back on it as a proper game.
“Things are totally different when someone is sent off.
“The referee was quick to give it and I feel like maybe we were a bit unlucky.
“It was one of those where you’ve seen them given and you’ve seen them not given.
“Obviously it’s disappointing how things went but we tried to battle and tried to dig in there and got undone by a set piece in the end.”
That set piece saw a short corner from former North End loanee Adam Reach worked to Josh Onomah with his centre flicked by Chelsea-owned Hector beyond Declan Rudd in the 62nd minute of a game that was low on quality.
“There were always going to create chances but I felt like we were quite solid in the first half,” said Davies. “They had a couple of headers and Dec made a couple of good saves but I feel like we switched off a bit on the corner and weren’t quite organised.
“It’s frustrating for us because we stopped their chances in open play and for one set piece where we should have been organised we weren’t and they punished us.
“It was just one of those days where it didn’t go our way.
“We just have to draw a line under it and move on which we’ll do.”