Manager Simon Grayson feels his team have adapted to the Championship since their Jekyll and Hyde performance against Saturday’s opponents Brentford back in September.
That day the Lilywhites were excellent in the first half, going into the break 1-0 up thanks to Daniel Johnson’s goal after less than 20 seconds, but came unstuck in the second half, eventually losing 2-1.
But the PNE boss thinks that had that game been now, the result would have been very different: “Down there we played well in the first half, but we didn’t do the same things in the second half as we did in the first and we didn’t do enough to get anything out of the game,” he said.
“If we had gone down there at this stage of the season in a similar position, 1-0 up at half-time, in control of the game, I think we would have gone on to win it because we’ve adapted to the division and our game management is better now.
“Brentford have had a change of manager since then with Dean coming in and they have had some good results, but it is the Championship. We have a huge amount of respect for them, they have individuals who can hurt you and if you allow good players to play, they will punish you, so we know we are in for a tough game regardless of their recent form.”
The Bees, now managed by former Walsall gaffer Dean Smith, put in an equally chalk and cheese display last Friday against Burnley, but showed in the second half what they are capable of, leaving Grayson and his team under no illusions as to the difficulty of their latest test.
“Brentford are a good team with some very good individuals,” he continued. “On their day they can be as good as anybody in the division with the players they have got.
“We saw two contrasting performances from them last Friday against Burnley, where they were poor in the first half, but in the second half they played very well.
“We have to make sure we do everything as right as we can. We have to be positive in our approach, but be aware of the threats that they have got. We want to continue with the momentum and run that we are on and try and get another victory to keep pushing up the table.”
Going into the game the North End chief is hoping to welcome back skipper Tom Clarke and Adam Reach and will give them as long as possible to recover from the respective injuries that ruled them out after the warm up of the two games on the road last week.
“Tom Clarke and Adam Reach have made good progress and won’t be far away from the weekend and if not, then we certainly expect them to be available for the derby game.
“Liam [Grimshaw] has now gone under the knife. We did our due diligence with the medical and even though he has played through the problem he has had, we felt it was the right thing to get it sorted straight away and he will be ready to be a part of things in a few weeks,” he added.