Manager Simon Grayson spoke to PNE PlayerHD after his side caused an EFL Cup shock to knock Premier League Bournemouth out in extra-time.
Simon Makienok proved the headline-grabber on the night with a ‘perfect hat-trick’, a left foot, right foot and headed goal, to get his first strikes in PNE colours in a competitive game and after the game the manager explained that his side – with ten changes – had been picked well in advance of the trip to the south coast.
“That team today was picked before the weekend’s game,” he explained. “That was always going to be the personnel we were going to play, given that we have the game on Friday, but also it gave an opportunity for players who have not been in the side or even in the 18 to show what they are capable of doing and it didn’t weaken the team; it just gave us different types of players and different options to play.
“Paul Huntington, John Welsh, Bailey Wright, Chris Humphrey etc. all have a lot of Championship experience; so, yes, we made the changes, but we didn’t think it would make us any weaker. It made us different in the way we were going to set up, but overall I thought the reaction was fantastic from the players.
“They responded really well, played at the right times, passed it and created some good chances and over the course of the game we deserved to go through.”
The likes of Ben Pearson and Ben Davies got their first run outs of the season, but lasted the 120 minutes and put in excellent performances as part of a thoroughly positive team display and the gaffer said that the players had done everything in their power to make his life difficult when it comes to selecting a team for Friday’s live TV clash with Lancashire rivals Wigan Athletic.
“I have just said to the players that they are a credit to themselves for what they have done over the last few weeks,” he continued. “There were players who have not been playing, but they have been working extremely hard in training for when they are called upon to make sure that they go out and make an impression and that’s what they did tonight.
“There were some really good, outstanding performances. We got the reaction from Saturday, even though it wasn’t predominantly the players who were involved on Saturday, but they all had an opportunity to make a claim to keep the shirt and you saw tonight the spirit they have in the squad.
“They received criticism at the weekend, but if you look at the bigger picture, it was a crazy 15 minutes at the end. However, we are delighted to get through tonight, because it was never going to be easy coming here against a strong Bournemouth team – we said to the players that there is always a scalp and we wanted that to be us tonight and we have done that.”
Great Dane, Makienok, starting only his second game in a North End shirt took the plaudits for his goals and the PNE chief was delighted for the striker.
“At spells it looked like he and several other players were out on their feet, but then they suddenly got a lease of life. I am really pleased for him. He has not had too many opportunities; it has been a bit of a stop start season so far for him with us. He has had the odd injury here and there, but this will do him the world of good.
“They were different types of goals and the reaction from being 1-0 up to 2-1 down was great. There was a great ball in from Chris Humphrey to set up the equaliser and it even looked like we could nick it in normal time, so I am delighted for him to get a hat-trick tonight, he thoroughly deserved it,” he added.
To hear more from the PNE boss, head to PNE PlayerHD for the full interview tomorrow morning.