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Simon Grayson: “We Showed Great Character And Spirit”

15 October 2016

Manager Simon Grayson was delighted that his side overcame the odds to come back from 2-1 down to make it five games unbeaten.

The Lilywhites took an early lead against Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium, when Jordan Hugill took advantage of a mistake by Seagulls keeper David Stockdale, but it looked to be an afternoon’s endeavours with no rewards when Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray gave the home side a second half lead.

Things went from bad to worse for the yellows when John Welsh was forced off with ten minutes to go due to a calf injury, with all the substitutes already used.

But two of those substitutes combined in the second minute of injury time, when Paul Gallagher sent over a delicious cross to the back post begging someone to get on the end of it and big Dane Simon Makienok rose highest to head into the bottom right hand corner for his first league goal, in front of the 575 travelling North End fans, much to their delight.

Speaking to PNE PlayerHD after the game, the gaffer acknowledged that his side had been forced to dig deep against a very good Brighton side.

“You know when you come here you are going to be up against it,” he said. “They are a really strong outfit – one of the best teams in the division. Chris is a good manger, with good players and he knows what is needed to win a game and we were up against it at times, because of the players they have got.

“They are entertaining, they pass the ball, defend and that’s why they went so close last season and why they will be there or thereabouts again this year.

“We knew we would have to dig deep. We got the break from the early goal, with the misfortune of their goalkeeper, but we took that and we were quite comfortable in the first half. We knew they would get into wide areas, because they open up the pitch and the full backs bomb on, but we had to make sure we stayed strong.

“They got up a good head of steam in the second half we just couldn’t quite deal with it. We needed to do the basics and keep our shape, but unfortunately that didn’t happen, but we dug in and it doesn’t really matter how you score, it is when you score and what it takes to go and get something out of the game and we showed fantastic character to get the equaliser when down to ten men, so it was a fantastic result and certainly one we would have taken before the game.”

The late goal came with just two minutes of injury time left on the clock and brought great celebrations from the team, the bench and the travelling fans.

This came despite the home side having the majority of the possession, something the PNE boss expected his side to have to deal with: “We were very solid in the first half,” he continued. “We knew we could get exposed in the wide areas because of how far forward that they play, but we played the way we felt was good enough and we got in some good positions and created some opportunities ourselves.

“We changed it slightly in the second half to deal with those wide areas, because it did feel like they could hurt us at times; but you have to give them credit. They are a really strong side and I like watching them, because they are entertaining, but we dug deep and in the second half, whilst they had the majority of the play, it is what you do when you have the ball that matters and when you score sometimes.

“We had to make the substitutions because the players had worked so hard. Callum Robinson has been off ill over the break and only trained lightly on Thursday and Friday, so he was finding it extremely difficult out there. Chris Humphrey works extremely hard for the team and we wanted to freshen it up.

“When you have the likes of Ben Pringle and Paul Gallagher, you know they are going to get on the ball. Prings has been desperate to get some game time and when you put big Simon up there, you know you are going to have a threat and hence why we put him on.

“It was a great ball in from Gally and it was nice to see it hit the back of the net, because when you are down to ten men against a team like Brighton and 2-1 down, you are expecting not to get back into it – but we showed great character and spirit to keep going, which we have at this football club in abundance.”

You can watch the rest of the interview, plus hear from the scorer of the injury-time equaliser, Simon Makienok on PNE PlayerHD – click here now to watch.

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