Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson admitted he took time after the win over Sheffield Wednesday to take in the enjoyment being shared in the dressing room and is now looking forward to the last four games of the season.
The Lilywhites’ top scorer played his part in the comeback over the Owls, setting up the second and decisive goal for Jayden Stockley having come off the bench with the frontman for the final 30 minutes of the triumph at Hillsborough.
And he says that when the group returned to their makeshift changing facilities, he sat and watched the joy on the faces of his team-mates.
“When I went into the changing room after the game, I was just sitting there and I took two or three minutes to myself just to look around and look at the excitement and the joy going through everyone and it was pleasing,” he told iFollow PNE.
“That has been coming. We have done so much hard work leading up to the restart and the first game was a bit of a disappointment, because we didn’t manage to hold on to a one goal lead and since then we have not managed to pick up any points, so it has been frustrating from our point of view, but last night showed the belief we still have within the group and the confidence that we still have.
“With the chances we missed, we could easily have gone into our shells and lost that game, but we have kept the dream alive and we are just going to look forward to the next one now.”
Having had to sit out two games, the No.11 returned to the 20-man squad for the trip across the Pennines and admits it was a relief to be back after a frustrating week of having to watch from the sidelines.
“It was frustrating picking up a little niggle and have to watch the boys knowing that you can’t be out there to affect things and help,” continued the former Villa man. “It has been a frustrating week, but it is good to be past that now and I am delighted I can get back out there to contribute.
“Since the restart it has been pleasing to watch at times and to play in, because I think we’ve played some good stuff, but, at the same time, it has been frustrating because we haven’t got that goal or taken the lead, so it has been a mixture – a bit of joy and a bit of frustration.
“You just have to look at the chances we have had on Wednesday night; Barky had two, Seani had one, Pat had a few from set pieces; Ledo had a strike from just inside the box and all of these were chances to take the lead and on another day, we would probably go in at half-time three or four-nil up, if we had been a bit more clinical.
“That has been our luck at times, but the pleasing thing is, even when we did go 1-0 down, we showed the courage to roll our sleeves up and dig out the result.
“It is important for the boys on the bench to be ready when called upon, because even though you are on the bench, you are always going to be called upon to make an impact and myself, Jayden, Pottsy, Scotty and Gally we all had some sort of impact on the game and that was the pleasing thing.”
Heading into the weekend’s visit of currently fifth-placed Nottingham Forest to Deepdale, the midfielder believes that the scenario the team now finds itself in, chasing down the teams occupying the Play-Off positions, is something the squad is more suited to.
“For me personally, I think we are better when we are chasing.
“I have been here for a long time now and every time we have had something in the palm of our hands, we have let it go.
“We have been anxious going into games when we have had something to hold onto; so the position we are now in – from the outside looking in – you would look and think you would rather be a Brentford or a Forest, sitting in that position, but with the group that we have got, we would much rather be chasing teams and putting them under pressure, instead of being the team that is already there and under that pressure.
“We can’t take our foot off the gas now. The win on Wednesday night it shows a lot of character from the team and I also think with the winning feeling, going into these last few games, we won’t want to let that go and we will approach each game as we normally do, take it game by game and try and win all four,” he added.
For the full interview with Daniel, including his thoughts on the weekend’s opponents and their season to date, just click on the video at the top of the page.
The only place you can watch the full game, live and uninterrupted, is on iFollow PNE, with live coverage beginning from around ten minutes before kick-off, with Jonathan Breeze and Tommy Spurr on commentary duties – click here now to sign up for a match pass for just £10.