The post-match thoughts of Chris Hughton and Simon Grayson.
CHRIS HUGHTON hailed the performance from his two centre-halves in the 0-0 draw with Preston on Saturday.
The Albion manager believes young duo Connor Goldson and Lewis Dunk showed plenty of maturity in a defensively resolute display.
He said, “It’s big for them; Connor’s developing with every game and it was a tough one for him today, as he got bashed around a bit, but that’s part of his education.
“I was really pleased with Dunky, who had a tough period a while ago, but he’s come through that with flying colours.
“He’s a good footballer, we all know that, but these clean sheets will do him, the back four and goalkeeper the world of good.”
The Albion manager kept the same starting eleven for the third consecutive game, but insists that a number of players are staking their respective claims for places in the squad.
“It’s solely down to the fact that the team are in really good form, and for the last couple of games I kept the same subs because I felt they deserved it.
“Richie [Towell] and Crofty [Andrew Crofts] have been pushing hard and it’s good to have Gaetan [Bong] back, who played in a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday.
“We’ll need them because there’s still an important chunk of this season to go.
“We are going into a series of games on a Tuesday and Saturday. For me, the obvious one was to keep the same team because we’re on the back of two fairly emphatic wins, but we’ve got a squad that’s pushing and competitive.”
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SIMON GRAYSON hailed the performance of Chris Kirkland in the goalless draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
The former England international stood in for the injured Anders Lindegaard and produced an accomplished display on his Lilywhites home debut.
He told pnefc.net, “We had to change and Chris Kirkland came in, showed his experience and what he is capable of doing. The lads in front of him protected him really well, but when he had to catch things or kick things or make a save, he did, so I am really pleased.
“He has been out injured himself for ten days and only came back to training on Thursday and we didn’t train on Friday because of the snow, but that shows what good professionals are about; they prepare properly and I am really pleased he kept a clean sheet on his home debut.”
The Preston manager was also pleased with his side’s improved performance in the second half, but admitted they struggled to create many clear-cut chances other than Calum Woods coming close.
“They have plenty of threats and we knew they had good players, but we needed to have a little bit more belief that we could work harder to get on the ball and play it shorter rather than up to Joe [Garner] all the time.
“Once we did that we looked a better team and we always do look better when we play shorter and quicker passes; and ultimately we created a few more chances and looked really bright.”
“He [Calum Woods] did everything you expect him to and the keeper made a fine save onto the bar and unfortunately for us it finished this side of the line."
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