Simon Grayson was pleased with how his players responded to defeat on Saturday against Brentford, to claim three points against Carlisle United.
The 1,700 plus Preston North End fans who made the trip to Cumbria, received a belated Christmas present from the squad, with teenager Josh
Brownhill’s third goal of the season; a terrific curling finish following a terrific team move.
And Grayson was pleased with how his players reacted following Saturday’s disappointment.
“I think after any defeat you are looking for a reaction from the players and we certainly got one today,” said the manager.
“We knew, coming up here, it was going to be a tough game for us because Carlisle have been really strong at home and with the atmosphere of a local derby and both sets of fans going at it.
“I think you could use the phrase ‘very professional’ today.
“I thought we were very organised, worked hard for the shape of the team and obviously a fantastic goal has won it.
“I thought the first 15, 20 minutes was going to be vital in the game, were if they got momentum, we might have found it difficult, but we created some good opportunities, great save from Ben Amos from Jack King, Chris Humphrey got himself some good opportunities John Welsh did, it was a difficult surface, it was bouncing around at times.
“When you have got that goal, you can pick teams off on the counter attack.
“Today, you look at some of the performances and there was some real professional performances from players that just go about their job and do whatever is required to win the match for the football club.
“David Buchanan has come in today and was excellent; Chris Humphrey has worked so hard on that right hand side for the team and other players as well, so a good team ethic and good team effort today.”
North End swapped their more familiar 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 for a 4-3-3 at Brunton Park, with Jack King being the focal point of the attack.
And Grayson was rewarded handsomely following the move, after leaving Cumbria with three more vital away points.
He continued: “People might question before the game why we were not playing Iain Hume, Stuart Beavon, why not play Paul Gallagher up front, but I like to have a focal point for my team, a man who can hold the ball up and bring other people into it.
“We knew we were strong in midfield and we could get it up to the wide areas with Gallagher coming in to pockets and Humphrey with his pace and we just thought we needed a focal point.
“Sometimes you have to pick a team that you think is capable of winning a game and fortunately that was the case today.
“We said to the players at the start of the Christmas period, that everybody would get an opportunity and we will keep trying to pick the right team to win matches.
“We had to make sure the first 15, 20 minutes, that we didn’t allow then to have any momentum and we had to be dogged and get up against people and stop them from playing and the first time we got any passes together, we showed what we are capable of doing and the ball ended up into Josh Brownhill, in an area where we looked to break him into those supporting roles with Jack King today and the finish was worthy of winning any game.
“What we want the players to do when they are in that final third area, is to go and express themselves.
“You won’t get criticised from us for trying things, trying to open the door against the opposition and do whatever it takes to try and get a goal.
“The players had a determination about them today ahead of the game, that they had to stand up and be counted and they threw their bodies on the line and were very professional in seeing the game out.”
Carlisle, who had been in excellent form at home of late, were limited to very few opportunities on Thursday afternoon.
An element of the performance which delighted Grayson.
“If you limit the opposition, especially the home team, to one opportunity over the course of 90 minutes, then you do have done a good job,” added the gaffer.
“I think the players in front of the back four worked extremely hard and when they had to get in there and close the ball down, make blocks and be alive in that 18-yard-box.
“It was a good performance and a big reaction from losing the game the other day, because it was disappointing for us, but we have shown what we are all about within that dressing room today.”