Preston North End manager Simon Grayson was pleased to pick up a point in the Lilywhites’ opening game of the season against Wolves at a red hot atmospheric Deepdale.
In a finely balanced match, both sides could have snatched the three points, but an absorbing goalless draw was to be the final outcome as North End’s Sky Bet League One campaign got off and running.
Speaking to PNE.Com after the full-time whistle, Grayson was quick to point out the importance of gaining something from the season’s first match against promotion favourites Wolves.
“I think so,” said the gaffer when asked if he was happy with a share of the spoils.
“The first thing you want to do first game of the season is make sure you don’t get beat.
“We tried to win the game, hence the last five minutes I went into a 4-4-2 to get Iain Hume on and try and win the game, so it opened up a little bit then, but we can be really pleased with how we performed.
“We got some good individual performances, I don’t normally pick out players but I thought Tom Clarke was excellent against [Bakary] Sako who can be a major, major threat against anybody, so I thought he was excellent, but the whole shape of the team was good and they did everything that I asked them to do in the build-up to the game.
“It was a good opening day fixture for us, I thought the game was on a knife edge for most of the time, there was a lot of endeavour, a good attitude from both sets of players, the work rate was there from our point of view, there wasn’t too many chances, I think there was a lot of half chances for both teams, but we certainly competed right the way through the game.
“It was a great atmosphere, I think the Wolves supporters were fantastic as well, they have got fanatical supporters.
“There was plenty of noise inside the ground and that’s why we want to try and create a real good atmosphere every time we play.”
As well as praising Clarke, Grayson had more words of encouragement for another of North End’s debutants in Kevin Davies, who lead the line superbly and Keith Keane who was exceptional in the midfield anchor role.
Grayson continued: “I think if the two centre halves, [Richard] Stearman and [Danny] Baath didn’t know too much about Kevin Davies, which I’m sure they do, they will do today, he is a handful.
“He uses his body extremely well, gets into good positions, wins a lot of free kicks and nearly got on the end of a few opportunities, so every centre half will know that they have been in a game come the end of the season when they have played against Kevin.”
And speaking about Keane’s midfield role he said: “I knew roughly what they were going to play, with [David] Edwards just playing off [Leigh] Griffiths and I thought we could get overrun in there because he is a good player, so I thought we could still have three in there and compete and also get the ball down and play and our wide players linking in with Kevin [Davies].
“We have got the flexibility to play different systems throughout the course of the season but I thought we would have to play that way and it worked well I thought.”