TOP SPOT IS THE NO.1 AIM
Grayson has eye on the Robins
PRESTON boss Simon Grayson insists his side are prepared to hunt down league-leaders Bristol City after shaking off promotion-rivals MK Dons to move four points clear in second spot.
Callum Robinson and Joe Garner sealed all three points in the space of four second-half minutes with welltaken goals, which sees MK Dons slip down to fourth as their own promotion challenge is beginning to fall by the wayside.
And Grayson was beaming from ear to ear after the Lilywhites secured their sixth win in seven games.
“It’s a huge result for us, but obviously people will be playing it up because of where both teams are in the league and we knew the significance of it,” he said.
“We’ve come away with a real professional performance, I thought from start to finish we executed the game plan really well because we knew that when we come here we have to press and get all of the tactics right.
“I think over the course of the game we were the worthy winners, that’s for sure.
“We’re so closely matched and the players know a lot about each other, the players had to be disciplined in their performance, but we always knew that we would create chances because of the quality players we have in the side.
“We don’t know what’s around the corner in football, and it’s human nature to look ahead – but if Bristol City slip up we’ll be wanting to catch them, but we’re just taking care of what we can affect.” Dons defender Kyle McFadzean had the first effort on goal inside 17 minutes as both sides struggled to take a hold of the game during the opening exchanges.
McFadzean struck a powerful long-range effort from 25-yards, which looked set for the top corner, but Preston goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was able push the ball just wide.
The visitors then went close after 24 minutes when Daniel Johnson’s curling strike from the edge of the area forced Ian McLoughlin into a save.
Robinson should have done better for the Lilywhites inside 52 minutes after he intercepted a loose ball from Anthony Kay, roamed unchallenged into the Dons’ box and drilled his effort well over the bar.
Garner wasted another good opportunity for Preston minutes later when he fired over from eight yards after a neat cut-back from Johnson on the wing.
The hosts went close through Samir Carruthers inside the 63rd minute, but Johnstone got down well to block.
But Robinson netted his sixth of the season for the visitors after 66 minutes with a well-taken left-footed strike across McLoughlin before Garner doubled the lead four minutes later with a close-range header.
But MK Dons boss Karl Robinson says automatic promotion is still there for the taking despite three straight defeats in the space of seven days.
“If people want to believe that we’ve lost automatic promotion then they can believe that, but it’s not over, not if I’ve got anything to do with it that’s for sure,” he said.“I thought the first half was very even and there wasn’t anything in the game.
“But second half it was men against boys, we looked weak in every area.
“It was a poor performance and it’s just been a poor week for us.
“It was first against second here but we were worlds apart – they were able to bring Kevin Davies and Jermaine Beckford on and we’re missing the likes of Dele Alli and Dean Lewington.
“It is what it is but the players who have been waiting all season for an opportunity haven’t performed here, they’ve hidden from the game more than anything.
“For us to be dominated like that in the second half is the worst I’ve seen at our stadium for a long, long time and that is disappointing.
“I thought the fans were excellent, but we’ve been beaten fair and square – we need to get back to where we were.”
CROWDED OUT: MK Dons duo Devante Cole and Will Grigg close in on Preston’s Bailey Wright
STAR MAN CALLUM ROBINS