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Simon Grayson: “It’s A Good Game For Us”

4 April 2016

Manager Simon Grayson thinks the competitiveness of the remaining fixtures will benefit his side.

The Lilywhites face a lot of teams who have plenty to play for between now the end of the 2015/16 season and the PNE chief believes that the extra edge to the games will assist his team’s focus in their attempt to keep moving up the table.

The final seven games begin with a home clash against relegation threatened Fulham, who, despite their position in the table, possess tremendous attacking prowess and are the second top scorers in the division behind Burnley.

“I’m expecting a tough game,” said the gaffer. “They have some talented individuals. They have been a very inconsistent team this season, but with the numbers of players that they have, the goals that the score and threats of the likes of McCormack, Dembele and Cairney, to name just three, they are dangerous, but are still in the bottom five of the division and that must be frustrating for them.

“They know that they must get more points and it is a good game for us. We could be playing teams who have nothing to play for, but we have got competitive games, which will make it entertaining. We have got games against teams who need to win games to get out of the bottom three or secure a place in the top six or the top two, so it bodes well for exciting games.

“So ultimately Fulham have some talented players; they have underachieved, but it’s a game where we are looking for three points and nothing else.

“I am surprised to see them where they are, but as I have said a few times, no team has a divine right to be in the top six and no divine right to be out of the bottom three. We have seen big teams get relegated out of this division and you have to make sure you are consistent in what you do.

“Individuals don’t win you all your football matches. It is about the collective components of the team defending well and attacking well together. If you look at Fulham so far this season they probably haven’t got that balance right, but we are certainly aware of threats they can pose to us.”

The clash between the teams at Craven Cottage back in November ended all-square after Joe Garner’s early goal was levelled by a superb free kick from Ross McCormack in the closing stages, a game that the North End boss thinks should have resulted in all three points heading back to Lancashire.

“I thought we played very well and we were very disappointed that we didn’t win the game,” he continued. “We totally dominated the first half, had good opportunities to go two or three up, but we didn’t add to our opening goal.

“At half-time they changed their system to accommodate us and then McCormack stuck one in from 25 yards, which I have seen him do many a time, but hopefully that is the last time I see him do that against us.

“We played very well down there and we know what we need to do on Tuesday night, finding that balance between attacking and defending and hopefully we can win another match.”

The Cottagers picked up an important win against third from bottom MK Dons at the weekend, but after the game their manager Slavisa Jokanovic made it clear that their focus needs to remain, something Simon echoed.

“It was a massive result for them because of where they are in the league.

“It will give them confidence, but the manager has said they still have seven cup finals to be played and he’s right because things can quickly change around.

“If you lose a couple of games you be thrown back into things. We have a lot of respect for them as a team and as a football club, but ultimately we don’t mind who we play at this moment in time, we want to build off our results, try and win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season,” he added.

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