Opposition Report: Preston North End
A closer look at this afternoon’s hosts in Lancashire…
Like many teams, Preston North End have had their Championship schedule heavily disrupted of late due to COVID-19.
So much so in fact, the Lilywhites only returned to league action on January 3 with a 2-1 away win over Stoke City. Their last outing before that came on December 11 when they recorded another win by the same scoreline over struggling Barnsley.
Most recently, North End have been knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup by second-division counterparts Cardiff City, losing out 2-1 over 120 minutes on Sunday in South Wales.
Going into Saturday’s game, just four points separate Preston and Blues in the Championship table.
IN THE DUGOUT:
Ryan Lowe was appointed North End boss in December after the club’s hierarchy decided a change from Frankie McAvoy was required.
Prior to his time at Deepdale, Lowe guided Plymouth Argyle to the Sky Bet League Two title in the curtailed 2019/20 season and spent a season at Bury before that, earning them promotion from the fourth division.
As a player, the 43-year-old was a combative striker who played in the Football League, enjoying his longest and most prolific spells at Shrewsbury Town and the aforementioned Shakers.
This afternoon’s game will only be the second time Lowe will have managed at Preston’s home stadium.
ONE TO WATCH:
Into his eighth season with Preston, Daniel Johnson has been a permanent fixture in this team since their promotion back to the second tier seven years ago.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he began his footballing journey with Crystal Palace’s youth team, before transferring to Blues’ rivals in B6.
Loan spells at Yeovil Town, Chesterfield and Oldham Athletic would follow before the permanent switch to Deepdale in the winter of 2015.
268 appearances and 52 goals later, the midfielder has quickly become a Preston favourite. Known for his hard work and goalscoring ability, the 29-year-old has found form under his new gaffer quickly, after being placed on the bench for McAvoy’s last four fixtures in charge.
LAST TIME OUT
Troy Deeney hit the post within the opening few minutes for Blues as they were held by Preston to a 0-0 draw earlier this season.
Jeremie Bela had an effort well cleared off the line by Ben Whiteman late on, with Daniel Iverson saving from Maxime Colin on the rebound.
This will be the 101st meeting between Blues and Preston, who have met regularly since their first game in 1894.
Recent form lies with the home side, who have lost just once in their last six meetings, winning four of these.
Gary Gardner was Blues' matchwinner in Preston last season, hitting the decisive goal in a 1-2 victory.
DID YOU KNOW?
Preston North End was founded in 1863 and played their first matches at the marsh near the River Ribble.
Later that year, they switched their home base to Moor Park, which is based in the north of the town. That is where their ‘North End’ nickname was born.