Manager Simon Grayson admitted his disappointment at letting a two goal slip at Crawley, but said that the point could prove a useful one.
The PNE boss spoke after the game and felt the match’s third goal was always going to be pivotal and thought his side should have killed the game off with the chances that they created at 2-0.
“We knew it would be a tough game, new manager in charge, his first home game and we played the first half very well,” he said. “They got caught cold with the system that we played – they tried to match us up and we got the two goal lead, but you know that at 2-0 the next goal is vitally important.
“We had some good opportunities; Scott Laird had a good opportunity, Tom Clarke had another and if we had got that third goal we knew it would be game over.
“We knew that John would get them going second half; they got the momentum and we are disappointed to concede from two set pieces.
“We showed the players what they are capable doing and how they attack things, but unfortunately they got two runs onto good balls and capitalised.
“We have been very good at dealing with these situations, but we have to stop your men getting free headers; however, if you’d asked us before the game if we would have taken a point, we would probably have said ‘yes’.
“They have some good players, it is John’s first game and they made it difficult with the tempo and we didn’t play well enough second half.
“We can be disappointed, but we are still 11 games unbeaten and we have another point towards our target.”
North End scored with a set piece of their own, Scott Laird with his eighth assist of the season to set up Paul Huntington for the first and then an exquisite team goal, capped off with the exuberance of youth, by Josh Brownhill just days before his 18th birthday.
“The second goal was a fantastically worked goal,” continued Grayson. “You saw Josh pick it up in the first place, played it up to the front men, continued with his run and then John Welsh played him though.
“It was then fantastic composure from such a young lad; it was top drawer and if that was in the Premier League, everyone would be raving about a fantastic team goal and an individual finish.
“Josh is an attacking midfield player and we’ve asked him to get forward. He knows he has Keith Keane and John Welsh who can protect the back four or five and we asked him to get shots off quickly today – especially in the second half when the wind was behind us.
“He hit the target a few times and Lee Holmes also hit one right at the end that was inches away from going in.”
Going into the busy Christmas schedule starting with the home game against Brentford – who leapfrogged the Lilywhites into third place with a late win at home to Oldham in Mark Warburton’s first game in charge – the manager is pleased to still be unbeaten and is looking forward to having his squad bolstered further.
“Joe [Garner] has served his ban and comes into contention for next week and hopefully Jack will be back as well. Gally will also be available after that, so we have good numbers.
“We are 11 games unbeaten and we have a good squad. We would have loved to have made it six away wins on the trot, but it wasn’t to be, but we are still in a good position.”
He also singled out the fans who had travelled for more praise: “It was brilliant. We have 368 hearty souls who made the long trip just before Christmas; many will have preferred to come here rather be dragged shopping – but it is just a shame we couldn’t send them home with three points, but the draw is the next best thing for them,” he added.