Football - Gritty win impresses Grayson

Preston manager Simon Grayson saluted his players' character after they secured a battling 2-1 win at Colchester to keep their play-off hopes alive.

PA Sport
Football - Gritty win impresses Grayson
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Simon Grayson's men kept alive their promotion push

Colchester skipper Brian Wilson's late own goal gave Preston victory after Jabo Ibehre had cancelled out Tom Clarke's opener.

Grayson said: "You have to win matches in different ways and I thought we showed a lot of character on a difficult pitch.

"We had to stand up and be counted when we needed to be and I thought that we did that.

"It was a lively pitch and Colchester have got some threats who can be a handful on the day.

"But I thought that we went about the game in a professional manner.

"I thought that we started the game extremely well - we hit the bar, had one or two other opportunities and were a threat from set-pieces.

"After it went back to 1-1 we stayed in the game and we're delighted to get another three points.

"I thought our delivery from set pieces was a lot better than it has been and when you have that delivery, you want people to go and attack it and Tom (Clarke) did that."

Colchester boss Joe Dunne was left fuming after Joe Garner appeared to be offside when he picked out Chris Humphrey, whose cross hit U's goalkeeper Sam Walker before going in off Wilson for Preston's winner.

Dunne said: "The through-ball was three yards offside.

"The linesman's got to make a decision and he's made a poor one.

"I think it was a cruel result and our performance was good.

"I can only take positives from this game and we can't feel sorry for ourselves.

"We were unlucky - sometimes they go for you and other times they don't.

"The second goal knocked the stuffing out of us and it's gone against us, but at this business end of the season, you want them to go for you.

"I thought that we were excellent and we matched them and probably created as many chances as they did.

"I thought that we were good going forward and we were brave enough to try and win the match.

"We did well to get back into the game and don't forget that we missed a penalty too, but I was proud of our performance."

Garner's header clattered the crossbar before Clarke powerfully headed home Paul Gallagher's set-piece to give Preston the lead, just before the half-hour mark.

Colchester were awarded a penalty soon after when Declan Rudd fouled Marcus Bean in the area, but the Preston goalkeeper recovered to save Ibehre's weak penalty.

But Ibehre made up for it nine minutes after half-time when he fired home, after his long run from the halfway line had initially resulted in his shot being blocked.

Walker then denied Garner, but Preston netted their winner with eight minutes remaining to seal three important points.

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