Simon Grayson was frustrated with his team’s start to the match following North End’s loss to Oldham Athletic in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
The Lilywhites lost 2-0 at Deepdale after conceding two goals in the opening eight minutes, leaving the gaffer to bemoan some poor decision making by his players in the early stages of the contest.
Speaking to PNE.Com following the match, Grayson said: “We just made wrong decisions all over the pitch.
“We tried to play in the wrong areas, at times we were trying to play one, two touch football in our own 18 yard box which is suicide football, no disrespect to the players, but half the players in the Premiership can’t even do that.
“We have to learn when to play, when not to play.
“We put a team out which people will talk about saying it wasn’t strong enough tonight, but on paper it was certainly a strong enough team.
“Three quarters, 90 per cent of that team are regular seasoned professionals apart from Ryan Croasdale and Alex Nicholson who done alright for their debuts.
“We went with a team that was still capable of winning a football match, but unfortunately the start hindered us and didn’t allow us to get back into it.
“To concede so early in the game put us on the back foot, we wanted to come out quickly against a team that we knew were a strong team, played very well against us a month ago, we knew how they would play, but obviously a deflected clearance landed in their path and the lad finished it which put us on the back foot.
“Then to go two down after ten minutes was a real kick where it hurts.
“We got to grips a little bit at half-time; second half changed the formation and could have quite easily got back into it.
“We wanted the players to be more positive in their approach, get closer to them, stop them from playing and we did have some decent opportunities.
“I am not going to defend how poor we were in terms of our decision making the first 30 minutes or so even when you throw nine changes into a team, but they should still understand how we work everyday in training and the areas that we play in and what we do as units and when they have watched the other lads play and what they need to do in them positions when they come into the first team.
“A large improvement in the second half, I thought there were some nice touches and good performances by the younger players, Ryan was a little bit unfortunate to come off at half-time but it was for the shape of the team.
“Josh Brownhill came on and looked very comfortable on his debut and Alex Nicholson as well.”
In his post-match press conference, the manager also stated that Will Hayhurst is the third member of the PNE squad to be selected for international duty this weekend, joining Chris Humphrey and Iain Hume, following his call up to the Republic of Ireland U21 squad, but Grayson has no intention of asking for Crewe Alexandra’s visit to Deepdale to be postponed although he is well within his rights to do so.
“Will got an international call up yesterday,” confirmed Grayson.
“He would have been in the squad tonight, but yesterday dinner time he got the call up to the 21s with Ireland so he went away with them, Bailey Wright was injured, we were always going to play Thorsten Stuckmann in goal, Kevin Davies was always going to be rested and Stuart Beavon, and the other lads are away, so my hand was forced over a few of the decisions, but we still had enough to go and win that match tonight.”
After suffering their first home defeat of the season, Grayson was insistent that the JPT was a trophy which meant something to the backroom staff and the playing squad, but he is focused on his side’s league form and league form only for the foreseeable future now.
He concluded: “I want to win every match and I told that to the players before the game and I told them afterwards as well.
“If somebody was to say to me ‘would you have wanted to have won tonight or won 30 days ago in the league match?’ it is a no brainer because the league is more important to us because this football Club is all geared up for Championship football.
“It’s a nice day out to go to Wembley and try and win it but that’s a long way off, our focus has been on the league, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take tonight because we wanted to win the game.”