SI­MON BACKS ‘IN­NO­CENT’ MEN

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Richard Latham To com­ment on this match go to http://boards. footy­mad.net/

SI­MON Grayson says he is “100 per­cent be­hind” the Pre­ston play­ers ar­rested and bailed in con­nec­tion with a spot­fix­ing al­le­ga­tion.

The man­ager named three of them – skip­per John Welsh, Bai­ley Wright and David Buchanan – in his start­ing line-up at Ashton Gate, with a fourth, Keith Keane, on the bench.

And af­ter watch­ing North End gain a well-earned point against im­prov­ing City, Grayson made no at­tempt to dodge the is­sue when asked about the al­le­ga­tions.

“I have spo­ken to each of the play­ers in­volved and I am con­vinced in my own mind that their in­no­cence will be proved,” he said.

“All of them as­sured me of that. If they are ly­ing it will come out in time, but I don’t be­lieve that is the case and ev­ery­one is en­ti­tled to be con­sid­ered in­no­cent un­less proven guilty.

“As things stand I am 100 per cent be­hind them, as I showed with my se­lec­tion. We con­trolled a lot of the game and one poor piece of de­ci­sion-mak­ing has cost us.”

Grayson was re­fer­ring to for­mer City player Neil Kilkenny’s fail­ure to clear the ball in the build-up to the home side’s 75th minute equaliser, scored by Wade El­liott.

“Neil will now be wish­ing he had found row Z, but he is a foot­baller by na­ture and doesn’t think that way,” said the Pre­ston boss.

“We have given away some soft goals in re­cent games, which is dis­ap­point­ing. But we are math­e­mat­i­cally in the play-offs and will keep go­ing for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion by try­ing to win our last four games.”.

El­liott, 35, on loan from Birm­ing­ham City, capped an ex­cel­lent con­tri­bu­tion when his low shot from the cor­ner of the box took a de­flec­tion to beat Pre­ston keeper De­clan Rudd.

The vis­i­tors had gone ahead six min­utes ear­lier, also with the aid of a de­flec­tion, as de­fender Jake King lashed home from 12 yards af­ter City had failed to clear a free kick.

Rudd had made a fly­ing save to deny City’s Kar­leigh Os­borne fol­low­ing a 57th minute cor­ner and sub­sti­tute Ty­rone Bar­nett wasted a great chance to win it for the hosts four min­utes from time when fir­ing over when well placed ten yards out.

City boss Steve Cot­ter­ill said:“I felt we de­served to edge it 2-1 on our sec­ond-half dis­play. If Ty­rone had been a yard nearer goal he would have found the top cor­ner.

“Pre­ston were a bit bet­ter than us in the first half in terms of the way they used the ball.

“They are a good side and if they fin­ish in the play-off po­si­tions I fancy them to go up.

“I took Adam El-Abd off at half-time be­cause he was on a book­ing and the last thing we needed in a close game like that was to be re­duced to ten men by a red card.

“We are not out of the rel­e­ga­tion is­sue yet. I have said for some­time that it will be de­cided over Easter and I still be­lieve

that will be the case.”

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