Simon Grayson was more than satisfied with a good solid point in a nil-nil draw with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the final game of the season.
In what was a keenly fought contest, the Lilywhites may have snatched the win in the second half, but were denied by inspired goalkeeping and the frame of the goal as this fixture failed to produce a goal for the first time in 97 years.
In his assessment of the match Grayson said: “I thought it was a half decent game considering it was the last game of the season for both teams.
“We competed well, we were organised, we were hard to beat.
“We limited Sheffield United to few opportunities and I think on another day we could have been more clinical in that final third on the counter attack and could have won the game.
“I am pleased with how the players have conducted themselves in the last game because it is never easy going into a game like this, but we are delighted with what we have done on a whole since we have been at the football club never mind just in the game today.”
The match was anything but a meaningless end of season fixture and challenges flew in left, right and centre, particularly in the first half and North End picked up a couple of war wounds throughout the contest with Bailey Wright and Keith Keane having to be replaced with concussion and hamstring problems respectively allowing Luke Foster and Andy Procter to get some more game time under their belts.
“There was some meaty challenges,” added the gaffer.
“I though the referee was quite lenient with one or two decisions for both teams, you don’t want anybody to be sent off but it was a competitive game, a Roses match going off and two teams wanting to win it and that’s what it is all about.
“He got a knock to his head just before half-time in a tackle so he has got a little bit of concussion; Keith Keane came off at the back with his hamstring which just tightened up a little bit.
“I thought Luke Foster when he came in for his first bit of football under myself did ever so well, competed well and Procy [Andy Procter] went to right back and slotted in well.
In terms of chances, North End came closest through Jack King who saw his header superbly saved and but for the wrong decision being made at critical times, the Lilywhites could have created several more.
Grayson continued: “It was a good header, but in the second half we got some really good opportunities on the counter attack, Jeffrey got into some good opportunities and probably picked the wrong option just as one or two other players did when we got into that area of the pitch so that is something that if we want to do better next year.
“We have to be more clinical, more decisive and make the right decision more often than not, but you can’t fault the players for what they have done since we have been at the football club as I keep reiterating.”
And he finished with praise for his full back and the fans: “Buchs has been in every game since we have been at the Club. He is a great lad, good trainer, thorough professional in everything that he does and it is going to be a real competition next year when we have Scott Laird who has been back training for the last month with us after a broken leg. so it’s good options for me next year and whoever comes back pre-season flying will obviously start the season.
“A thousand supporters went to Swindon in my first game, 2,500 to Crewe and at home games, and away games, they’ve been very vocal.
“They have been very passionate about the football club and it is a two way thing, I think they have seen the players working for the shirt and we are giving them something to cheer about and want to give them something to celebrate this time next year.”