Manager Graham Westley looked forward to the first game of 2013 and a trip north to face Hartlepool United.
Gaffer: “We Have To Relish It”
The North End boss said that the players should relish the New Year Bank Holiday atmosphere and be ready to play with confidence to combat the boost the home side will have gained from their weekend victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
“It was a big performance from them at the weekend,” said the PNE chief. “It will have spread a lot of confidence. We have to make sure that we are ready for the confidence that they’ll have in their camp.
“New Year’s Day is always going to be a big home Bank Holiday crowd, it is going to be a difficult environment to go into and we have to make sure we are ready to relish it.
“We have seen our side play very well away from home. We have seen some very strong performances. But we have also seen some very timid performances at home.
“Some of the decisions that the players are making when playing on Deepdale, they are playing within themselves and with a fear factor. Confidence is everything is sport, in football and in life and we have to make sure we work at that and get ourselves right to relish our home environment and perform within it.”
This is the fourth game in the last 14 days, but the manager says this is something that everybody is used to, although a bit of freshness in the side may be needed: “We have played Saturday-Tuesday most of the season, so whilst people talk about Christmas as having a lot of games, we are used to it,” he continued.
“The difference with Christmas is that you have to work with the extra pressure of family situations going on around the football. The boys have to keep the games and the training going around those family situations and that’s what makes it tough over Christmas.
“Freshness is a factor and you are always going to pick up a knock or two over Christmas and changes get forced on you.”
North End face a different north east outfit to the one that was steamrollered 5-0 at Deepdale back in September, with John Hughes now at the helm and the winless run halted by an impressive victory in South Yorkshire on Saturday.
Westley feels that ‘Pools have nothing to lose, but that his side must get back to concentrating on their own needs and not what the opposition might bring to the table.
“They have a different manager and a different way of playing. They played with a midfield diamond at the weekend and did very well with it.
“They are adjusting, changing and responding to their situation. Sometimes you get into a situation where you have nothing to lose and it gives you a sense of relaxation and freedom and they are kind of there at the moment.
“They are bottom of the pile and they have nothing to lose. We have to bear that in mind and at the same time get back to focusing on our own performance.
“We had three very good away performances at Portsmouth, Bury and Coventry. We could so easily have got more than we did from those performances and we have to remind the work ethic we put in, the togetherness we showed and make sure we turn those draws into the wins we are more than capable of,” he added.