Preston North End manager Simon Grayson admitted to feeling elated and disappointed about the Emirates FA Cup tie with Arsenal.
Callum Robinson’s early goal was the minimum North End deserved from a superb first half display that took the game right to their much-vaunted opponents from north London and in fact they perhaps should have been more ahead than the one goal they were at the interval.
“Everybody leaving Deepdale tonight will have different emotions; from being elated at how well we had played and the chances we created against a very very strong team, to then disappointment at losing a game which we didn’t deserve,” admitted the PNE boss when he spoke to PNE PlayerHD after the game.
“Anybody who was at the game or watched the game will realise how well we played.
“We made the strong team that Arsenal had out look very ordinary and ultimately it is a cruel game when you concede in the last minute to not get a replay.
“I am immensely proud of the football club – players, the supporters and everyone involved tonight, I am just disappointed that we have not got what we deserved.
“Everybody can be really proud of how we conducted ourselves; the profile that this game has given us. The supporters were magnificent, made some great noise and Arsenal will leave here very fortunate, but pleased with how they were treated.”
The high-tempo style that the team used from the outset completely upset the Premier League side in the first 45 minutes and the PNE chief admitted they knew they had to work hard to stop the Gunners taking a grip of the game.
“We had a game plan to make sure that we stopped them getting into their way of playing and when we couldn’t do that we had to make sure that we dropped and made it difficult to play through us and every one of them carried out those instructions very well,” he continued.
“We played some really good stuff and we just didn’t get the second goal when we really deserved it and that would have made it very difficult for them.
“In the second half we gave them the perfect start by not closing down someone on the edge of the box, but we stayed in the game and were well and truly still in it late on.
“The opening goal epitomised how well we played in the first half. We passed it well, we were disciplined off the ball and everything we did was very positive. Full backs stepping in and controlling the game and this wasn’t against a reserve team.
“Arsene Wenger picked a strong, strong team and that speaks volumes for this football club, the respect he has given us and for the competition as well.
“There were some outstanding performances, tinged with the disappointment that we didn’t get that second goal when the individual and team performances deserved it.
“We were positive in our approach.
“We went 4-4-2; and not many teams will do that against Arsenal and we needed to have the energy, which we had. We have always said that we have a good strong squad, and you could see that tonight.”