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Clean sheets win games

27 December 2012

Kevin Blackwell on the 0-0 draw at Preston and looking forward to the Carlisle game

“When you come away from home it’s always important to try and get a result, but I am slightly disappointed that we didn’t win the game in the end.

When you come to Preston and play the team that Graham Westley is building, if you don’t fight the game they will hit you hard.  I came here and saw them against Crystal Palace and Huddersfield and they absolutely bullied and bashed them, and if you don’t mix it with them, they will hit you hard.

When you come away from home, you cannot be bullied, but Preston in particular, they enjoy doing that.

It was just a case of we knew that they would come at us in the first 20 minutes, but at half time, my larynx will tell you what I said at half time.  I told the lads that they had to believe more, and in the second half we really took the game to them and we looked a threat with some good balls down the sides.

We had a few good chances; Zac Thompson got through in the first half and should really have finished his chance.  We had three or four chances that we really could have done better with.  Maybe a better pass, a bit more composure but that will come.

The amount of kids that we have in this team is just incredible.  I’ve told them that if they are coming here on loan from Leeds, Wolves, and Leicester or wherever, that they have to earn the right to stay in the team.  We keep forgetting that these are 19 year old kids and to come to a place like Deepdale can be quite daunting.

I’ve come here with experienced sides like Leeds and Sheffield United and I know what this place is like.  It’s a great club and when the fans are behind them, it’s a tough place to come to.  They have to man up.

Clean sheets win games, and with the clean sheet we looked like the side that would go on and win it late in the second half.  We had something to hang onto.  Defenders have to be more ruthless about their defending.  On their contract it says defender, so defend.

We’ve been playing well for a long time; this isn’t a team that has gone to Preston and laid down. I don’t think we look like a bottom two team, this is a team that is very hard to beat and I am really proud of the players.  What we had at Preston is it.  Every player that was available at the football club was there on Boxing Day – that’s it.

There is no way I can manipulate it or threaten them with changes, it’s not going to happen, so they have to be well organised, structured and have a belief about them – and I thought we had that at Preston.

Greg Wylde was out with sickness and diarrhoea; I was absolutely elated on Christmas Eve when I was told we had extended him for another month and then deflated on Boxing Day when I was told he was ill.

His pace would have been vital for us and he would have exposed them, we did it a few times but they cynically blocked them as they went past quite a few times.  They have picked up three or four bookings from it so it was a case of man and ball but not both.

Now we have a trip to Carlisle, but the unfortunate thing for me is that we lost to Preston on penalties, we lost to Southend on penalties, we lost at Crewe with the last kick of the game – all games that we really should have won, but didn’t.  That can knock confidence, but it hasn’t knocked confidence and we saw that at Preston on Wednesday.

The lads know what target I have set them and they have got till Tranmere to get to that target.  If they do it, then I will be absolutely elated.  A couple of points will do it and its near.”

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