‘If there’s a bet­ter goal I’ll be a chicken’

The Football League Paper - - BIG INTERVIEW - By Paddy Din­ham

SI­MON GRAYSON has seen it all be­fore in the play-offs but the Pre­ston boss strug­gled to re­call a bet­ter strike than Joe Garner’s which sal­vaged his side a first-leg draw against Rother­ham.

Grayson has taken three dif­fer­ent clubs into the Cham­pi­onship – Black­pool and Hud­der­s­field in the do-or-die play-offs and Leeds au­to­mat­i­cally.

His quest for a fourth pro­mo­tion to add to his CV was look­ing grim un­til Garner’s glo­ri­ous goal – volleyed home from 25 yards – gave Deep­dale the lift it des­per­ately needed at the start of the sec­ond half.

The Millers, who had won only two of their last six games prior to head­ing to Lan­cashire, looked on course for a vi­tal ad­van­tage af­ter Alex Rev­ell had given them a first-half lead.

But the two will do bat­tle again on Thurs­day with Grayson pay­ing trib­ute to his 24-goal hero Garner.

“It gave us a bit of a lift, it lifted the crowd be­cause we didn’t give them much to cheer about in the first half, but it got us go­ing again and it’s still game on,” said Grayson.

“Joe’s been fan­tas­tic all sea­son. He works ever so hard for the team and he’s got his re­ward with the goal.

“When you start these play-off games you want to make sure you’re still in the tie for the sec­ond leg and we’ve done that.

“It was a tight game, there wasn’t much in it in the first half and we got back into it in the sec­ond and ob­vi­ously a fan­tas­tic strike from Joe Garner got us back in it.

“We knew how Rother­ham were go­ing to play, they play in your faces and get the ball up to the front two, we had to pass it a bit bet­ter and we tried to do that.

“We didn’t do it as well as we can do but it’s all to play for on Thurs­day night now.”

Pre­ston had a strong penalty ap­peal turned down in the first minute when Garner went down un­der Craig Mor­gan’s tackle.

But the home fans were silenced when Rev­ell raced onto his own flick- on and held off Tom Clarke be­fore slot­ting the ball un­der De­clan Rudd on 21 min­utes.

The goal gave the Millers con­fi­dence and they were sharp to close down the op­po­si­tion, forc­ing North End into a se­ries of sloppy mis­takes.

The mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion North End des­per­ately needed, though, ar­rived just af­ter the restart when Garner col­lected Clarke’s long ball ex­pertly on his chest, nudged it over Kari Ar­na­son and un­leashed an un­stop­pable vol­ley past Adam Collin from 25 yards.

The Millers al­most went back in front straight away when Joe Skarz’ left-wing cross was met by Rev­ell but he could only head the ball over.

Lee Freck­ling­ton then missed an even bet­ter op­por­tu­nity four min­utes later as his poor touch al­lowed Rudd to smother the ball af­ter Wes Thomas had played him in.

The vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to pile on the pres­sure and Rob Mil­som was the next to go close but his left-foot shot went just wide.

The game fiz­zled out late on be­fore Rudd had to be alert to keep out a James Tav­ernier header right at the death.

But Millers boss Steve Evans was left purring over Garner’s stun­ning


IT: Rother­ham goalscorer Alex Rev­ell af­ter scor­ing the opener

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