Frankie McAvoy said a point was just reward for his Preston North End players’ ‘magnificent’ effort against Norwich City.
North End’s interim head coach saw his side made a quick start in his first game in charge, but after Emi Buendia’s opener from range, he had to wait until the 95th minute before his side equalised through a deflected effort by substitute Brad Potts.
Speaking to iFollow PNE after the game, Frankie told of his delight for everyone involved in the club to claim a point against the Championship league leaders.
“I feel delighted for the lads, for the backroom team all the way through, for the players, for the people that run the club,” said Frankie.
“It’s a good point and it’s a good start for us if I’m being brutally honest. The task I set them was to try to go and create as many chances as we could, as many good scoring opportunities as we could.
“We knew Norwich were going to create against us, we knew that, so the task was, ‘Let’s see what we can do against them.’ When opportunities and chances come our way, can we be clinical enough to take one of them?
“The effort all the way through, right to the end, was magnificent, I couldn’t ask for any more of them.”
The interim head coach was more disappointed by the manner of Norwich’s opener, as Buendia moved inwards to score, as Frankie explained the team had worked on trying to prevent the Canaries from operating centrally.
“The one thing we were really disappointed with was we worked all week trying to make sure we show them outside the pitch and not inside and obviously Buendia manages to come in and score.
“That’s where they like to operate, so that was the reason for us setting up in the 4-1-3-2 formation, to try and make it as difficult as we could for them when they had it, and when we had it, we could be a threat going forward, getting down the sides and getting opportunities and chances.
“Overall, there are some bits I’m really pleased with, some bits that we really need to brush up on. Endeavour, commitment, hunger and desire – all the things you ask for – they gave it in abundance. When you’ve got that, you’ve got a chance.”
The Lilywhites started well and created plenty of chances early on in particular, with Emil Riis, Ched Evans, Jordan Storey and Scott Sinclair all among those to go close.
Frankie added: “I said to them, ‘We need to go and try to get a fast start, let’s try to get the first goal, let’s see how they cope with it.’ Emil’s got a great opportunity, I think Scotty’s got the other one.
“Even from set plays, big Jordan form the corner at the back stick was another area we tried to work on. There was some pleasing bits. The bits that we need to work a wee bit more on was in terms of the shape that we used, always wanted to try and play two up top to try to cause them problems and dilemmas.
“At times we did that, just our final pass at times was trying to get us down the side. Second half I thought we did it a wee bit better, first half we had a couple of chances to do it where we played balls short and they managed to steal it and break.
“The players have bought into it, they’ve worked their socks off, and I’m delighted for them they got the point. Just rewards for effort and endeavour.”
Potts’ last-ditch equaliser sparked emphatic celebrations from the side and backroom team, which Frankie felt demonstrated a strong team spirit.
“I think we created 11 opportunities today, three on target, which is a positive and it’s something to work on going forward. The goal at the end, for me, was the icing on the cake. You can see the team spirit that they’ve got, which has been there.
“Confidence is a big thing at times, maybe when you’re not winning, but they showed there that they’re in it together and let’s go and try to win as many games as we can.”
And on it being his first game in interim charge, Frankie admitted he found it difficult to separate himself from the action on the touchline!
“Being brutally honest, I’m kicking and heading every ball. It’s just at times you need to compose yourself!
“The one thing I knew today was I wanted the players, the squad that played, everybody, just to leave everything on the pitch. ‘Don’t leave anything that you regret when you come off the pitch.’ If you’ve given everything and you lose the game, then you’ve obviously lost to the better team.
“Today they gave everything, right to the 95th minute, and that’s the type of attitude, commitment, endeavour, camaraderie, the workmanship – that’s what they need. Hopefully people have seen that but that’s what they’ve got.”
Watch more from Frankie on iFollow PNE.