Simon Grayson is looking forward to the run in after the Lilywhites secured another three points to put to bed any lingering doubts about their League One status.
In what was a full blooded, high tempo, North-West derby, Nicky Wroe converted North End’s first home penalty in well over a year 72 minutes into the game, after Jeffrey Monakana’s cross was handled in the box.
And Will Hayhurst wrapped up the points in injury-time, when he broke free to score into an unguarded net after Dean Bouzanis had been caught up field at an Oldham Athletic corner.
The win guarantees League One football at Deepdale next season and Grayson is pleased that he can tick the first box on his to do list at Preston.
Speaking to PNE.Com after the match he said: “That was the first task when we came to the football club, to make sure we stayed in the division.
“It’s nice to have done it as quickly as we have done because it means we can look forward to the end of the season without any anxiety or worrying about anything, but it doesn’t mean to say we will take our foot of the gas because we want to finish the season in a positive manner, winning as many games as possible to try and get up that division and we are building towards next year, get the momentum going which from day one is what we wanted to do.
“It was a good way to do it tonight, a clean sheet and two goals.”
In a game of few clear cut chances, North End took advantage of the opportunity presented to them when Jonathan Grounds handled in the area and the gaffer was in no doubt as to the correct decision had been awarded.
“I don’t think so,” said Simon when asked if there was any doubt over the penalty decision.
“Someone just told me its 13 months since we last had a penalty at Deepdale so full credit to Jeffrey [Monakana], he put the ball in the box.
“I thought Oldham were good tonight, first-half I thought they were very strong and powerful, closed us down quickly and didn’t allow us to get into any sort of routine and we were second best in a lot of departments.
“We knew we had to up it second-half, win more battles and eventually I thought Oldham might just run out of steam because of the energy they have put in and then you could see us sort of pinning them back in and creating a few chances.
“Their ‘keeper made some good saves and obviously the goal goes in and they have to open up even more and we tried to hit them on the counter attack with a couple of other opportunities.”
The game swung in the Lilywhites favour with the introduction of Monakana and Graeme Cummins, but the gaffer refused to take credit for the inspired substitutions, instead giving it to the players for their influence when introduced to proceedings.
He continued: “As a manager when you make them sort of decisions the players have got to try and influence the games.
“They are disappointed them players when they are not starting, but what they have got to do is make sure they are positive when they come off the bench and try and affect the game.
“[Graeme] Cummins ran over the top and worked their back four, Jeffrey was positive with his running and delivery into the box.
“You look at Jeffrey in the last two games and how he has affected the game when he has come off the bench, so I’m delighted that those decision, as a manager work, they don’t always work, but I am delighted that the players have done well tonight.”
The substitutes weren’t the only players to come in for praise from the gaffer, with a special mention also going to the central defensive pairing of Paul Huntington and Bailey Wright, who helped claim a second successive clean sheet and Will Hayhurst who burst away to seal the points late on.
“Probably two minutes before, he [Will Hayhurst] was struggling with a bit of cramp and he looked like he could be coming off,” added Grayson.
“We had to withstand a lot of pressure going into the box and we won the first tackle which was good and obviously he was running through and at one stage it looked like he might be down but full credit to him, he has kept his composure and I’m delighted that he has got another goal.
I think him [Bailey Wright] and [Paul] Huntington have formed a real solid partnership, another clean sheet tonight and when Oldham put the ball into the box, the whole back four were defending things, players in front of them were working hard.
“The players come off the pitch absolutely shattered tonight and that’s what you have to do every week.
“I have said to the players that there are thousands and thousands of people who would give their right arm to play professional football, so it’s the least a supporter expects every time you cross that white line and we are drilling into the players what they have to do and hopefully the quality comes with the work rate that we are trying to achieve in training and on matchday now.”