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First Team News

Simon Grayson: “As Angry As I Have Been With This Group Of Players”

17 April 2017

Manager Simon Grayson pulled no punches when speaking about the first half of his side’s performance in their first home league defeat of 2017.

“Tommy came into the team with Greg’s injury and did a really good job; he was the only one who could have a positive outlook from the game. It was nice for him to get his goal and we had the momentum then, but Tom [Barkhuizen] missed his chance just after and Jordan had a good chance that went past the post, so we were asking questions of them, but ultimately we can’t give the advantage to the opposition like we did in the first half,” added the PNE boss.

“We had more energy about us, we asked questions and we played further forward and that contributed to the goal, it contributed to other opportunities that we had, but really we didn’t do enough to get anything out of the game.

“At half-time I could have taken nearly every player off, but we had lost Greg in the first half and I wanted to give the players on the pitch an opportunity for a reaction and we were better.

The second half saw a reaction from the players and they had the chances to take something from the game.

“We couldn’t get anywhere near them in the first half and it really could have been 3-0 at half-time and nobody could have had any complaints about that.”

“We didn’t ask questions of them in their half of the pitch, we were sloppy on the ball, we gave it away cheaply, we didn’t stay with runners and we didn’t match their energy and quality and we ended up on the end of a hiding.

The Lilywhites actually started brightly and perhaps should have been ahead inside two minutes: “We had a couple of good chances, but then for whatever reason we stopped doing the things we have been doing all season,” continued the manager.

“It was the angriest I have been in that dressing room at half-time with this group of players. We responded second half, but you can’t start the game like that and expect the game to get something out of it and ultimately we got what we deserved.”

“We didn’t do that and it allowed us to be sloppy on the ball and when you give good players, like Norwich have in their team, time and space, they are going to hurt you.

“We were poor off the ball – and we know that when we are at it off the ball and stop the opposition, with a real desire, work-rate and energy about us, we are as good as anybody in this division.

“It was hugely disappointing,” said Simon. “We said to the players before the game that with four games to go, we didn’t want the season to peter out, but we started the game in a terrible manner.

And afterwards, speaking to PNE PlayerHD, the gaffer said that he had been very clear to his players that the first half performance was not one that was acceptable.

The Lilywhites left themselves too much to do, having gone in at the break 2-0 down to goals from Graham Dorrans and Josh Murphy, despite Tommy Spurr’s first goal for the club.