North End manager Simon Grayson is looking forward to a clear week of working with his players following the end of PNE’s pre-season fixtures.
The Lilywhites last pre-season match finished in a 1-1 draw against Rochdale at Spotland and Grayson was both satisfied and frustrated in equal measures with the players’ general performance.
Speaking to PNE.Com following the game, the gaffer said: “Pre-season friendlies are so frustrating for managers and probably supporters because you want to see things in match game situations that you know you see regularly in training, players have done in league matches as well, pre-season is a means to an end of getting fit and you can’t read too much into things.
“It is getting you up to speed on certain situations, there is an extra spring in your step next Saturday, there will be bigger crowds, so it is a means to an end but that’s not an excuse for one or two things that we didn’t do well today.
“We got 90 minutes out of certain players and we were ok in patches, there are things I know we still need to work on, but one or two people showed me what they are capable of doing and one or two have still got question marks over what they still need to do as well, it’s pre-season and we got no injuries out of the game.
“I think if it had been a league game we would have been a bit disappointed with the tempo that we played with but hopefully things will work well this week.
“We have had a hard week, we have been in every day, we have been doing double sessions and worked them hard Thursday and Friday so maybe we were a little bit leggy after the long week we have had.
“Obviously preparation next week is all about being geared for that first game and having the players really sharp with zest and obviously being ready for the big game.
“This has all been a gradual process but you want players to be doing stuff very close to the mark of what they will be going to do next year, as I said there are one or two things that we did ok with, one or two things that we know we can do better with, but we have got a clear week this week to get everybody on their toes working hard and getting them up to speed, physically and mentally ready for next week.”
The visitors went ahead in the match through Tom Clarke – playing as a central defender on Saturday afternoon, whose looping header from a set play opened the scoring.
But Rochdale were back on level terms early in the second-half after North End failed to deal with the ball in their own box, before it fell to Scott Hogan who stabbed it home.
Discussing Clarke and the two goals, Grayson continued: “When we signed him I said he was a versatile player, we know what he is capable of doing.
“He is a threat in both boxes and it was a good header, good delivery, obviously there goal was disappointing because it was bouncing around and we were a little bit slow to react; I know one or two players thought they were being fouled as well, but disappointed to concede a goal like that.”