Frankie McAvoy said he knew what it meant to Preston North End fans to secure a win on Gentry Day after his side came from behind to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 on the final day of the season at the City Ground.
Tom Bayliss scored his first goal for the club within eight minutes of the second half restart, cancelling out James Garner’s opener, before Liam Lindsay’s thumping header less than 15 minutes later completed an impressive turnaround for the Lilywhites.
Speaking to iFollow PNE post-match, Frankie – donning a bowler hat himself for much of his post-match media duties – pointed out the importance of Gentry Day and revealed that the win was also a satisfying one for him on a personal level.
“With Gentry Day, I know what it means to Preston fans, how important it is and remembering all our loved ones.
“The good bit for me today, it would’ve been my dad’s 80th birthday today as well; he passed away three years past in January, so I’m delighted.”
The interim head coach felt his side were below par in the first half but was pleased with their reaction after the break.
“First half I thought wasn’t good enough, we didn’t play well enough first half, being brutally honest.
“We didn’t keep the ball well enough, didn’t make it stick when it went up top, didn’t get enough players to support. We ended up defending too deep, their full backs ended up being too high and I was disappointed with us in terms of how we played first half.
“Thankfully, we managed to change the shape a wee bit and we get I think a far, far better performance second half.
“I’m delighted that they managed to win the game 2-1 because they’re a good team, Forest are a good team, they defend well and make it difficult for you. But I thought we looked a real threat second half, every time we managed to get forward, and that was pleasing for us considering what we served up in the first half.”
Scott Sinclair and Tom Bayliss came into the side from last week’s win over Barnsley and Frankie felt getting the pair of them higher up the pitch was key in the second half comeback.
“I knew if we could try and get Scotty in between the centre back and full back, and the same with Tom – getting them up closer to Ched.
“Ched makes sure the ball can stick better and then with Alan and Ryan supporting as well, allowing our wing backs to become more adventurous. I thought if we could do that then we could cause them issues and thankfully we managed to do that.
“Even out of possession, we managed to get Scott and Tom into good defensive positions, we were putting them under pressure to try and find the passes, we managed to steal it a few times and break and cause them issues. I was delighted with how we did the second half; a lot, lot better.”
The interim head coach reflected on his eight games in charge and credited his players for their efforts during that time.
“The players, we knew we had not done well enough. To pick up 17 points from a possible 24 is massive, massive credit to them. Today, we were under a bit of pressure first half and I thought, ‘We’re 1-0 down, we’ve not played well, let’s see what we’re made of – can we get a reaction?’ And I thought they did that and that’s absolute fantastic credit to them.
“I’m delighted that they’ve managed to finish on a high, I didn’t want it to finish on a whimper. We were safe, things like that, I didn’t want that to happen, I was just hoping and praying if I’m honest that we could try to finish on a high and do well and thankfully the second half was pleasing for us.
“I’m delighted with them because they’ve shown a great fighting spirit, great team spirit, great camaraderie, all the things that you look for and you just expect to be there – they don’t just happen easily and that’s credit to them.
“Even the changes we made today, I thought the guys come on and had a great impact as well. For me, I’m really pleased with how, as a group, we’ve done in the last eight games.”
Watch more from Frankie by clicking on the video above.