Preston North End manager Simon Grayson believes that a replay at Deepdale is the least his side deserved falling a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
The Lilywhites fell behind when David McGoldrick scored from the rebound following Declan Rudd’s initial save from his penalty; conceded by Paul Huntington who was penalised for a hand ball.
But PNE responded superbly and drew level through Kevin Davies who slotted past Scott Loach.
And the gaffer was pleased with his players following the full-time whistle.
“A replay is the least we deserved,” stated Grayson.
“I thought we started the game extremely well, for large periods of it we passed it around with a purpose and looked the better team.
“You are expecting them to come at you and to be under a little bit of pressure, but I thought that we controlled it and had some good opportunities the first 25 minutes or so.
“They then got the penalty which knocks you a little bit, but we showed a great deal of character to come back into it very quickly and we grew into the game as it went on.
“We had some good opportunities, limited them too few opportunities because the work rate, organisation and the shape of the team was very good.
“We work hard on the training pitch, but it is down to the players once they go onto that pitch and do what is necessary to try and get a result.
“We said to them before the game today, go out and do what you have done for the last eight league games by being undefeated, work hard for each other, play when you have got the chance to play and be resilient and we showed all them qualities today.
“For us to get a draw today was the least that we deserved I think.
“We have always said we want a winning mentality, keep the momentum going and a cup run can give you that momentum still, so to have the period we have just had, the Christmas period with three away games, the travelling, being in every day, players living in each other’s pockets, it has been a big ask for them.
“They have done everything we have asked them to do and they will get a couple of days off now to recharge their batteries ready for a big game next week and the rest of the season.”
PNE left Jack King, Tom Clarke and Chris Humphrey back in Lancashire, with Joe Garner dropping to the bench as Grayson shuffled his pack.
More proof of the strength and depth within the North End squad.
“We have got a good squad, we have always maintained that sometimes when you take players out of a team, it doesn’t necessarily make it any weaker, it just gives it different permutations and different options,” continued Grayson.
“Tom Clarke has played every minute of every game and needed a rest, Jack King, we are just managing his foot and Chris Humphrey’s hamstring was a bit tight.
“We left Joe Garner out and brought Kevin Davies in who has a wealth of experience.
“We have competition within the group which can make us stronger game by game and push each other to stay in that team any time someone gets an opportunity.”
Despite falling behind in the first half, PNE responded in a manner that delighted the manager, who was pleased at the volume of chances created in Suffolk.
He continued: “It was a great save by Declan Rudd from the penalty and their lad reacted first and you just hope that the lads don’t feel too despondent and they didn’t.
“They got out the traps again quickly and got the goal very quickly which was what we needed I suppose and again, from then on, we had some good opportunities.
“Paul Gallagher slashed a chance in the last few minutes and Scott Laird had another one and Joe Garner, so we have created a lot of good chances and opportunities against a strong Ipswich team today.”
Grayson singled out loan signing Neil Kilkenny for individual praise following a dominant performance in which he dictated play from start to finish.
“I thought today, Neil Kilkenny was outstanding and probably the outstanding player on the pitch,” commented Simon.
“He never gave the ball away, that’s why I brought him to the Club, because he wants to get on it and make things happen and we did think that that was one of the final pieces of the jigsaw that we needed from where we were at the start of the season.
“He has done ever so well for us and is enjoying his football, plays to his strengths, but the captain alongside him has done ever so well and they are making a good partnership.”