Josh Brownhill put Preston North End’s impressive performance against Nottingham Forest down to a solid defensive display.
The Lilywhites shut out Forest at the City Ground to produce a 0-0 stalemate and keep themselves in the hat for the FA Cup fifth round draw on Sunday.
The home side failed to force Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd into a single second half save as a back four consisting of Scott Wiseman, Tom Clarke, Bailey Wright and David Buchanan kept their Championship opponents at bay.
“The key to that result was to stay strong at the back,” Brownhill told PNE.Com in an exclusive interview following the game. “We knew they were going to have a lot of the ball.”
“We just needed to make sure we kept our shape and were hard to break down, which we were.”
He added: “We just kept it tight at the back, stayed strong, and then when we went forward we tried to make the keeper work which we did.”
Just months ago, Brownhill was playing in front of a handful of spectators for the U18s. Against Forest, the midfielder ran out before over 25,000 fans at a packed City Ground.
The mild-mannered 18-year-old admits he fulfilled a childhood dream by playing at such a storied stadium and praised North End’s vocal travelling support.
“It’s a childhood dream to play teams like this and in stadiums like that and the crowd being what it is,” he said.
“The fans were unbelievable, all the Preston fans were great and it’s just great to play in games like that.”
He added: “To play in front of fans like that who sing all the way through the game is great, especially being young lad.
“I’m not used to it, but it’s great.”
North End had the chance to win the tie with the last kick of the game, when they were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position, just outside the area.
Brownhill was given the honour of taking the crucial set piece and stung the palms of Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow with a fierce strike.
“I don’t know what I would have done if it would have gone in,” the youngster said of his effort on goal.
“When I hit it I thought I hit it quite sweetly but then obviously the keeper parried it away but if I’d have scored, especially in front of the crowd that was there, it would have been an unbelievable feeling.”
The Lilywhites will now face Billy Davies’ Forest at Deepdale, where they have already dispatched the likes of Ipswich Town and Blackpool in cup competition this season.
“We’re confident we will get a result at Deepdale,” Brownhill said of the replay.
“Like I say, we just need to stay strong like we did this time and make sure when we play them at home we finish off our chances.”