The North End boss felt that whilst some of the organisational elements of the team could be improved after the penalty victory, the attitude was exactly what he has been looking for and he knows that against the in-form Sky Blues, the a repeat display will be needed.
“We play a side in stunning form,” said the 44-year-old. “The new manager has come in and turned the situation around and get his side playing attractive, goalscoring football and they have posted some decent results.
“We know that the weekend is going to be a very difficult journey to make, against a form side, but we are ten unbeaten in 12 ourselves and we know that the two we were defeated in, came in the aftermath of those two nasty injuries, as a result of the disorganisation that followed.
“Some of the disorganisation stayed with us the other night, but the spirit is certainly back to the level it was at when we were in that run of unbeaten games, when we were threatening to go on a winning run and I think the fighting spirit and determination they showed the other night – provided we keep on building – the winning run that we are all searching for won’t be too far away.”
The end of the game marks the mid-way point of the campaign and whilst he would want more, the manager thinks there is plenty to come from his charges: “We are 12 points off the top, but I won a league championship from either 11 or 13 points back from Oxford – eventually winning by 18 points – that’s a 30 point swing. What happens in the league, is that after Christmas, someone gets it together and my teams have got a history of getting it together after Christmas,” he continued.
“I am not going to put that kind of pressure on these boys, because this is a new squad and we are a new team, but watch their physical level come into play. They’ve got a massive advantage in terms of their endurance levels. I know where they are at compared to the start of the season and I know what athleticism they have got in their bodies. These boys are in terrific condition.
“The fact we get so many shots at goal, and let so few in at our own goal, is a measure of the athleticism they have shown. The footballing quality they have got is there. There are some timing issues and some organisational issues that are just stopping them converting all their play into goals, but as that sorts itself out and as the physical nature comes into play, you watch them go after Christmas.”
This is the first of three games with the Sky Blues five weeks, with a quick turn around in the league games, as well as the JPT northern semi-final in January and they are matches the PNE chief is relishing.
“I am really looking forward to both of the games. You are going to play in good arenas and this is a great arena to play in. You want to play against teams that are trying to play the game in the right way; who want to pass the ball and work the ball and have a good open contest.
“The type of arena we are going to play in and the sort of ethos that I expect they are going to adopt, will be one that we will happily engage with.
“We will be a tough prospect. I am sure when the two teams line-up in the tunnel at the weekend and again in the JPT, I bet our lads fancy themselves,” he added.