The Lilywhites played some scintillating stuff in the first half as Callum Robinson headed them into the lead, but the gaffer was delighted with how his players stayed in the game after the visitors had equalised at the start of the second half, before Jordan Hugill’s winner 12 minutes from time.
“We started the game really brightly with the ball and without it,” explained the boss. “We stopped them playing, pressed them in good areas, but passed it quickly, passed it forward and asked questions of them.
“There were plenty of opportunities. There were crosses coming in, Jordan got far post with one, and we probably have too many to really remember. But some of the play, the build-up play, the link-play, the running off the ball and the running with the ball was really good.
“I think when you get to half-time when it’s only 1-0, you’re thinking this could be one of those typical games where we’ve played ever so well and not taken the chances where they came along. But ultimately, we dug in there and got the victory. Some of the stuff in the first half was outstanding and when we played it individually, but collectively as a team.”
North End went in 1-0 up at half-time, but were pegged back by Che Adams’ strike two minutes into the second half and the gaffer admitted that it was difficult for his players to maintain their fantastic start.
“We wanted to start the second-half as well as the first but from then on they were decent with the ball because they’ve got some decent players, they’ve been very good over the last few weeks,” he continued.
“You always knew they were going to come out a little bit sharper. They changed the system to 3-5-2 and it was a ball up to Jutkiewicz and they get runners from midfield and it’s a decent finish, so it was a bit of a disappointing start from us. But ultimately what we’ve done is dug deep and stayed in the game, but had plenty of chances still to go and get the winners, and it’s nice to get that second.
“You’re going to be involved in games in the Championship where you can’t dictate for the whole of the 90 minutes. It’s just not possible, because physically you can’t do it, but ultimately the opposition are good players that are going to cause you a problem somewhere down the line.
“We blocked some shots, we made some good tackles and we did what was required to stay in the game when we always knew that they were going to get chances, because that’s the type of team we are and the players that we’ve got.”
Another pleasing aspect of the Lilywhites’ win was seeing all of the front four directly involved in one of the two goals, with Aiden McGeady providing the cross for Robinson’s opener, while fellow wide-man Daryl Horgan assisted Hugill’s winner.
However, Grayson was more satisfied that the whole team worked together to get the victory.
“I’m not bothered who creates them and who scores them as long as people are creating and scoring them. That’s all you can ask from the players, to keep doing what you’re asking them to do, shape without the ball, shape with the ball and to be positive when you get into the final third.
“It was nice for Jordan to get in there and get the winner because he got in there on numerous occasions first half and second half – didn’t quite finish them – but if you keep getting in there eventually you’re going to get one.
“We could have had a few more after that as well, but it’s pleasing to get back-to-back wins because you have to earn the right in this division and it’s been a positive couple of days for us,” he added.
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