By Connor Billington – Reporter
Preston’s impressive win over Huddersfield marked Simon Grayson’s 200th game in charge of the Lilywhites.
PNE notched up their fourth straight home against The Terriers and the boss will have been pleased to celebrate his landmark with another three points.
Grayson was appointed as North End boss in February 2013 after the sacking of controversial boss Graham Westley.
His first game in charge at the club was an away fixture at Swindon Town in which Will Hayhurst scored his first senior goal for the club before getting dragged back and having to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The fans showed their support for the new boss from the off with a pretty much sold out away end chanting ‘Simon Grayson’s Super White Army’ at the final whistle.
The new boss then consolidated Preston’s place in the league, which was looking more and more uncertain under the previous boss, with just three defeats in the two month until the end of the season.
Going in to Grayson’s first full season at the club, fans had high expectations and wanted a return to the Championship.
The 46-year-old had a dream start to the season with a famous 1-0 win over arch rivals Blackpool with a very late header from Tom Clarke, the perfect way to get fans on your side!
They pushed early on in the league side and were unbeaten for the first nine games of the season and the boss won the manager of the month award for September with four wins from four.
As the season wore on, the side were in and around the promotion push alongside in particular, Wolves and Brentford who picked up the two automatic spots in the end.
Preston had to settle for the dreaded play-offs and with their well-known abysmal record in the end of season lottery, fans were nervous.
They were pitted against Rotherham and after a 1-1 draw at Deepdale, they were run ragged by a strong Rotherham side in the second leg, even after taking the lead, and so it was another season in the third tier.
Obviously fans were disappointed but it was also recognised the fantastic job Grayson had done throughout the season, with a strong FA Cup run to the fourth round, and just seven league defeats all season long.
After just over a year in charge, Grayson entered the new season with a league record of 28 wins, 22 draws and 10 defeats, fairly impressive and something that lead his side to be one of the favourites for promotion this time around.
Preston again, got off to a strong start to the season, one defeat in fifteen games set the marker.
Grayson won the manager of the month award for October as his side won all six games in the month, this wasn’t his only award of the season as he picked it up again for February.
The battle for the two automatic spots soon turned in to a three-horse race between Bristol City, MK Dons and Preston.
It looked like Preston were going to grab second place ahead of MK Dons who were sharp on our tail in the final few weeks of the season and it all boiled down to the last day.
In typical North End style, they didn’t get the win they needed on the final day and MK Dons won the race.
Grayson remained calm and whilst players, fans and everyone was obviously gutted, he picked up the players and got his side back at it just days later against Chesterfield in the play-offs.
Jermaine Beckford’s celebration after his outstanding goal in the second leg and again at Wembley of heading straight towards Grayson on the touchline spoke volumes and just showed the faith his side showed in him.
A lot of praise has to go towards the boss for Preston’s sparkling performance at Wembley, everything worked down to a tee.
The players and management couldn’t have got things any better that day and when it really came down to it, they got the business done.
This was the Yorkshireman’s record-breaking fourth promotion from League One as a manager after one of the best seasons Preston have had in a long time.
Now, before now Grayson has been known to struggle when it comes to managing in the Championship but Preston’s first season back in the Championship can definitely be classed as a success.
The side looked well at home in the second tier and even upset quite a few teams along the way, the boss lead Preston to victories away at all three of the local rivals, something that hasn’t been done in one season for a very long time!
They ended a successful season in the top half, 11th to be exact with a record of 15 wins, 17 draws and 14 defeats.
There won’t have been many fans around that could have had complaints with the work Grayson had done in the side’s first season back where they belong.
As we speak Preston have had a solid start to the new season, and an improved start on last season, after a wobbly opening month or two, it looks like his side are just starting to get to grips with it.
As we hit the 200 game mark, Grayson has his side sat 13th in the Championship and holds a record of 94 wins, 60 draws and 46 defeats, not bad eh!