Simon Grayson admitted that the 2-0 defeat to Walsall tonight was tough to take but remained optimistic that his side can claw back the deficit.
And they were left to rue those missed chances when Walsall grabbed two crucial goals late on - firstly through a well-executed free-kick by Anthony Forde, and a second from Tom Bradshaw meaning Preston have it all to do in the second-leg at Walsall.
But the North End manager is in no way throwing the towel, with tonight’s loss in the JPT Northern Area final their first since the defeat to Bradford City, 10 games ago.
“The first-half we played very well, created some good chances, and their keeper made some great saves and we could have done with one or two of them going in,” acknowledged the PNE boss after the final whistle.
“But second-half we gave them the opportunity to get into the game, and we made individual errors that’s made it difficult to overturn the deficit.
“But obviously it’s something we can still achieve – I’m sure Dean [Smith] will be telling his players that they’re not at Wembley yet, and our players have been told in there that nothing is over until that last second leg."
To listen to Simon Grayson’s full reaction on the defeat to Walsall, click here to watch the interview on PNE Player.