Bosses agree best team lost
6:38am Thursday 6th February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Simon Grayson claimed daylight robbery "would be an understatement" in describing Nottingham Forest's fortunate FA Cup victory over his Preston side.
Former North End boss Billy Davies made a victorious return to Deepdale and saw his Forest side extend their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions with a 2-0 victory thanks to Jamie Mackie's first-half strike and substitute Darius Henderson's late goal.
However, before the fifth-round date at Sheffield United was set in stone, Preston threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents, who survived a couple of penalty shouts for handball and needed two dramatic Jamaal Lascelles blocks late on and the assistance of the woodwork to keep out Grayson's spirited team.
"We said to the players before they went out 'do yourself justice, do the club justice and put on a performance' and we certainly have done that," Grayson said.
"Everybody saw the commitment, the effort, the quality. To limit such a strong, powerful team as Nottingham Forest to the number of chances they had and to create the chances we did...it was an understatement that it was daylight robbery today."
Grayson avoided attributing defeat to the decisions which the Lilywhites failed to benefit from, even if he was adamant Greg Halford's handball in the area from a Kevin Davies shot should have been awarded as a penalty.
The ex-Leeds boss added: "It didn't bounce for us; we certainly didn't get decisions that we felt could have gone our way - penalty shouts, two handballs, a push in the back on Kevin Davies from Halford. Decisions didn't go our way but if you're going to lose a match you go down with a fight, and we certainly did that."
There was sympathy too from Billy Davies, who twice came so close to leading North End to the top flight when he was in Grayson's position only to suffer play-off heartbreak on each occasion.
The Forest boss has, though, now only lost once to Preston in his 10 games against them with either his current club or Derby, although he counted this result as perhaps his luckiest escape to date.
"I think the best team lost," the Scot claimed.
"On the night we didn't show enough quality, we didn't compete as well as the home team and you've got to feel sorry for them because they deserved to win the match. End of."
Conditions were more conducive to an old-fashioned spirited cup tie, and Davies added: "It was a typical cup tie night of football, the rain was pouring down, the wind was blowing, the pitch was soggy and they handled it better.
"Their attitude was excellent, their energy was good and the best team lost."
The Blades are next up for Davies' side and that fixture will be an intriguing one given their manager Nigel Clough's ties to both Forest and their bitter rivals Derby.
"It doesn't matter (who it is), we're in the next round," Davies countered.
"Home or away I'm just delighted to get in the next round, it'll be a very difficult game again and we look forward to another cup game."