SIMON BACKS ‘INNOCENT’ MEN
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.”