Preston North End manager Graham Westley reflects on his side’s narrow exit from the Capital One Cup…
“That is the level that you aspire too and the level you have to learn to compete at and it doesn’t scare me that we have to compete at that level.
“We came up against good quality players and showed we have got what it takes to play at that level. Tonight we played the best of the three teams and they had a bit too much for us even though they made a number of changes.
“It has been good for confidence, the performances and results we have posted against Huddersfield and Crystal Palace were good,” he concluded.
With the Capital One Cup campaign now over for another season for PNE, manager Westley looks back on a successful cup run which has seen North End knock out two Championship sides.
“Stuart Beavon got the Man of the Match tonight but Joel was on a par if not a very close second and he was terrific with his football quality by getting us passing and playing. Between him and Beavon I thought they put in a sterling performance.”
“Joel [Byrom] took a couple of bangs; he has a gash on his shin but nothing that should keep him out. He is a warrior; he is a tremendous footballer and a great technician.
“Mous has more than enough capabilities to play at right back, it was his second game in a short period of time, so it was deliberate to take the leg work of midfield out of him and on the whole I thought he performed creditably.
He continued: “Keith Keane has been established as the right full back and Mous [John Mousinho] played a lot of his earlier career at right back so it is a position that he knows.
A position which is familiar to ‘Mous’ the manager explained why he played him at the back, and also handed out praise to the performances of Joel Byrom and Man of the Match Stuart Beavon.
Ahead of the game, the manager made three changes to his starting line-up, but also moved skipper John Mousinho from central midfield to right back.
“We had a response of sorts but on the whole it was disappointing night but some more lessons learnt for this group as it grows.”
“Graham Cummins then had an opportunity, likewise Stuart Beavon, so we created moments late on and if we got the second goal then you never know, we could have gone on and got the third.
“We tried to give the game an injection bringing the two substitutes and then Lairdy [Scott Laird] and Will [Hayhurst] had chances.
“The players worked so hard to get back into the game it was almost it got away from them when the third goal went in and the game pleated out which was disappointing.
“It was unfortunate that we made such disappointing errors, once we conceded the third the game died a bit after that.
“We could have easily gone in level at half time with the chances we created and after half time we came out and really took the game to them.
“Credit to the players, we played some good football in the first half to get back into the game and we deserved to get the goal, we had a sustained period of pressure and play.
“We didn’t solve the problem but by the time we did we were 2-0 down and it was always going to be an uphill struggle from there.
“It is not the one Middlesbrough have been playing and it isn’t one we anticipated so it took 15 minutes for us to work out how to play against it.
“They showed the qualities we thought, especially in the first 15 minutes, the shape was one we haven’t yet faced before.
“It wasn’t the result we were looking for, it was a tough night for us, Middlesbrough had a lot of quality and they made 11 changes but as Mark Venus [Middlesbrough assistant manager] has just said, they still had lads out there earning 20 grand a week.
On a rainy night in Lancashire, the boss told the local press he was pleased with how his side responded from going 2-0 down early on, but overall was disappointing with how the night ended.
North End’s run in the competition came to an end in the third round for a third consecutive season following a 3-1 defeat against Championship outfit Middlesbrough at Deepdale.