DAVIES’ 15OTH IS JUST ENOUGH
PRESTON manager Simon Grayson says his side need to improve – and quickly – despite claiming victory over struggling Coventry at Deepdale.
Kevin Davies’ first-half header secured Preston’s first league win in six games and saw him finally reach the landmark of 150 career goals – after 46 games on 149.
The result means Coventry have won just one of their last 20 meetings with Preston and have never won in the league at Deepdale.
Simon Grayson’s side beat Sheffield United in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday to set up a last16 tie against Manchester United next weekend.
The Preston boss says the result was more important than their performance and has challenged his players to earn a spot in the team against United.
“Ultimately we’ve not done as well as we would like to do but we’ve got the three points which is all that matters at times,” Grayson said.
“We’ve got the result but if we play like that most weeks we’re not going to get to where we want to get to.We set high standards on Tuesday night and we didn’t really reach them here.
“Kevin has been a wonderful servant to the game and he thoroughly deserves to get to that mark it’s been a long time coming. His overall play has been fantastic for us.
“I said to the players, that those who are starting today, they’ve got the opportunity to either lose or keep the shirt for a big cup tie so that should be a big incentive for them.
“If they don’t perform in the games before they won’t get the opportunity to play in that tie. Simple motivation – play well and you’ll stay in the team.”
Preston took the lead with the first real chance in the 21st minute when Paul Gallagher’s floated cross was met by Davies, who headed over Coventry keeper Lee Burge and into the net from eight yards.
Davies almost doubled his tally after 34 minutes when Gallagher’s cross evaded two defenders and was chested goalwards by the striker six yards out – but Coventry keeper Burge pushed it over the bar.
Frank Nouble should have equalised for Coventry after 57 minutes as Luke Williams picked him out from the right but Nouble skied his right-footed strike from six yards.
Coventry built late pressure and Adam Barton’s sweetly-struck volley from 30 yards was well pushed away by Sam Johnstone after 77 minutes.
The Sky Blues are winless in their last five league games but manager Steven Pressley believes that run will end soon.
“I’m very confident that we can arrest this run,” Pressley said. “The one thing is when you lose a game it’s the manner in which you lose a game.
“I think the appreciation of the supporters at the end of the game, staying behind applauding the players kind of showed how much they appreciated the efforts of the players.
“The one disappointment for me is I really feel for the players because they gave everything I asked of them.”
STAR MAN PAUL
Preston HEADS UP: Preston forward Kevin Davies heads home