Preston North End boss Simon Grayson was happy with the discipline and organisation of his side against Liverpool this afternoon.Unlike last season’s encounter between the two sides where Liverpool ran out as 4-0 winners, it was a much tighter contest – with North End taking the lead on the stroke of half-time courtesy of Josh Brownhill.
Goals from Suso, and Kristoffer Peterson in the space of five minutes meant Liverpool won the pre-season fixture, but Grayson acknowledged that the defeat did little to dampen his optimism with the season less than a month away.
On the much improved performance compared to last year’s game against the Reds, Grayson said “I genuinely think we’ve got a much stronger squad then we had last year.
“The one’s who have come into the squad have shown what they’re capable of doing and there’s been progression of the younger players as well.
“Both Josh Brownhill and Alan Browne gave us energy in the midfield, and we had plenty of movement from Will (Hayhurst), Joe Garner, and Gally (Paul Gallagher).
“We expected Liverpool to have most of the possession of the ball, and we had to be organised, disciplined and patient.
“But when we got the ball, we wanted to express ourselves and cause some problems and I thought we did that on numerous occasions.”
Despite not taking the lead until late in the first-half, Preston more than held their own prior to the half-time interval, arguably having the lionshare of chances.
Liverpool got back into the game in the second-half with the home side making 11 changes at half-time, and Grayson gave credit to the 24 players who played, playing so well against a strong opposition, coinciding with a hectic pre-season schedule.
“We came up against a really strong Liverpool side in the first-half with the likes of (Philippe) Coutinho, Lucas and Rickie Lambert,” continued Grayson.
“When we didn’t have possession of the ball, we were disciplined and didn’t go chasing the ball - we didn’t get picked off too many times, and we probably worked Brad Jones more then they worked Jamie Jones for most of the game.”
It’s promising because the lads have had a real tough week – we had a game Tuesday night, and a session on Thursday, but that’s what pre-season is all about.
“People might try and work out what the first line-up’s going to be but for me players can play themselves into the starting line-up and play themselves out of it.
“The player’s know they have to work hard during the week and then take it into the game when it comes along so I’ve got no ideas or formation we’re going to play.
“You could see today we played a different formation to last year then we ended up playing three at the back in the last 15 minutes and we’ve got many opportunities to keep changing things around.
“We’ve had a real good solid base now of 10 days of being back - we’ve got the ground work into the players and now it’s about getting into them as much football as possible.”
Thankfully, almost all of the North End players remained unscathed from the 90 minutes, with the exception of Paul Huntington who suffered a wrist injury, but Grayson doesn’t think that’ll make much difference with a new season on the horizon.
“Paul (Huntington) has done something to his wrist with a collision with Martin Skrtel - he might have broken a bone, but I don’t think it’s going to hinder him too much.
It’s just unfortunate that’s happened, but we’re not too worried about that at present.”