Preston North End manager Simon Grayson was delighted with his players following the Lilywhites’ victory at Bramall Lane.
A 35 year hoodoo was put to bed thanks to Stuart Beavon’s second half strike and the gaffer praised his entire team following an excellent defensive performance and a lesson in clinical finishing.
Speaking after the match to PNE.Com, Grayson said: “We are delighted to come here against strong contenders for promotion this year.
“You look at their team, the wealth of experience and some real exciting talented players, but we really imposed ourselves today.
“We defended when we had to do, I thought the defenders put their bodies on the line, typified by Bailey Wright in the last minute when he has headed one from underneath his crossbar and then we have got players who can hurt the opposition and that’s what we have done today.
“All-round, a real professional performance.
“This is a fantastic arena for football, there team have a host of Championship players with a wealth of experience, Jose Baxter is a player, Florent Cuvelier is a decent player as well, they have got some talented players, but we withstood everything that they threw at us.
“I think they had possession, but Declan Rudd hardly had a save to make in the whole game and that is credit to the team that we have limited the opposition to that today.”
After soaking up a lot of pressure from the hosts in the opening 30 minutes of the contest, PNE gradually worked their way into the match and front duo Kevin Davies and Beavon linked up superbly to send the
North End fans in the Jessica Ennis Stand into delirium with the winner.
Discussing the goal, defensive performance and the teams work ethic, the manager added: “We know that Stuart Beavon, if he gets goalscoring opportunities is a goal scorer and I thought he was lively again today without having too many opportunities, worked hard for the team and great composure to suck the lad in and check back inside on his left foot and finish it, so great for him, but also good individual performances within the team today.
“Kevin Davies has not given up anything in his 20 odd year career so full credit to him that he did that [set up the goal].
“I thought the shape of the team today was really good, players worked extremely hard for each other.
“You look at Iain Hume for example, flair, talented player, but we asked him to play this sort of inside to left side channel because we knew Tony McMahon might be a threat going forward and we couldn’t afford the luxury of him playing behind the two and he did ever so well for the team.
“We work extremely hard on the training pitch [on defending.] I think we have got players who have got a real desire to stop the opposition.
“I mentioned Bailey Wright headed a ball from under his crossbar with about five minutes to go, Tom Clarke, Paul Huntington putting their bodies on the line.
“Chris Humphrey is a right winger, no one really talks about right wingers getting up and down in that position, but he has done a fantastic job, Scott Laird as well, but it’s the lads in front of them who deserve a lot of credit because they work extremely hard to stop the opposition and give them few opportunities.”
Victory against the Blades extended Preston’s unbeaten league run to eight matches, with four wins on the spin and Grayson admits that confidence within the camp is high at present on the back of it.
He continued: “One thing that I have got is that I have got confidence in my players and trust in them that they are going to try and carry out what I am asking them to do.
“If we get to games and I haven’t got a clue if they are going to carry out the instructions I have asked them to do, you have got a difficult job, but the players are doing everything I’m asking them to do on a Monday until Friday and then carrying out them instructions on the Saturday.
“I don’t get carried away, I am really a sort of down to earth kind of manager who won’t get too high when we are winning but I won’t get too low when we do lose games.
“Confidence levels are decent, they are probably higher than they were this time last year, but we said this time last week when we beat Stevenage that nothing is won in September.
“We will certainly work hard with the players, they have had a hard week in training last week and they will have the same again this week.
“You don’t achieve anything without getting the hard work into them.
“They are excited, but come Monday they will be brought back down to earth when they are doing hard sessions again.”