The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Bai­ley

NOTH­ING screams ‘di­vi­sion’ more than a bust-up be­tween two of your own play­ers – but the un­savoury events of a fort­night ago are an­cient his­tory, ac­cord­ing to Daniel John­son.

The Pre­ston mid­fielder was the first man to wade into a fight be­tween team-mates Eoin Doyle and Jer­maine Beck­ford, pro­voked by a squab­ble over who was best placed to score.

Ul­ti­mately, not only did the Li­ly­whites suc­cumb to a 2-1 de­feat at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day, but the strik­ers earned three-match sus­pen­sions for their trou­bles.

Boss Si­mon Grayson did not mince words when he branded the pair’s be­hav­iour a dis­grace and the in­ter­net pro­ceeded to poke fun at the club’s ex­pense in the mer­ci­less way only so­cial me­dia can.

But John­son in­sists that, as far as the dress­ing room is con­cerned, the slate was wiped clean from the mo­ment the play­ers re­ported back into train­ing.

“It was quickly for­got­ten about on the Mon­day. The lads apol­o­gised and we didn’t speak about it again from that point on. We were on to the next game,” he said.

“It’s just one of those things. Nat­u­rally, peo­ple fall out in teams when emo­tions are run­ning high, though ob­vi­ously you never re­ally see things like that.

“But we’ve got a great set of boys and it was never go­ing to af­fect us for long. It is busi­ness as usual and, hope­fully, we are prov­ing that with the re­sults we’ve had.”

The in­ci­dent harked back to the in­fa­mous punch-up at New­cas­tle be­tween Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer, which brought shame on St James’ Park in 2005.

But, in con­trast to the Mag­pies – who won just two of their last 11 games of the sea­son in the af­ter­math – Pre­ston are clearly made of sterner stuff.

Hav­ing is­sued re­funds to the trav­el­ling sup­port that wit­nessed the red mist de­scend at Hills­bor­ough, the Li­ly­whites paid their fans back – and then some – on derby day a week later.

John­son scored a 25-yard screamer and then a penalty, but it was left to Cal­lum Robin­son to nick the de­cid­ing goal in a 3-2 vic­tory over Black­burn.


“We knew what it meant to the fans and the foot­ball club as a whole to not only get the three points but the brag­ging rights,” 24year-old John­son said. “It was re­ally good to re­spond by get­ting the win.

“I was happy with my two goals. It had been a lit­tle while since I was on the score­sheet. I feel I was in good form in train­ing and it’s great to bring that out on the Satur­day.

“I will do my best to take op­por­tu­ni­ties when they come and,

hope­fully, the boys chip in with goals as well.” Though Doyle and Beck­ford served the last game of their sus­pen­sions yes­ter­day, there is no guar­an­tee that Grayson will let them off the naughty step im­me­di­ately af­ter Christ­mas.

But they will need all the fire­power they can get to hang on to the coat-tails of the Cham­pi­onship’s play-off chasers – and John­son is dream­ing big.

“I don’t see why we can’t get into the play-offs – we are on a lit­tle run at the mo­ment,” he added.

“We’ve picked up a few points and now we want to see where this takes us.

“There are still six months to go so lots of things can hap­pen be­fore then, but we’ve def­i­nitely got a chance.

“We know what this Christ­mas pe­riod is about. The man­ager trusts us to look af­ter our­selves but also en­cour­ages us to en­joy this time with our fam­i­lies.

“We’ve got to be pro­fes­sional and I think we can give the fans a

lot more to cheer about.”

PIC­TURE: Pro Sports Images

PEACE­MAKER: Daniel John­son holds Pre­ston NE striker Jer­maine Beck­ford back be­fore he is sent off

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